The British Embassy in Manila supported the first in a series of three Southeast Asian trade forums that seek to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from trading arrangements.
Working in partnership with Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade, the think tank of the Philippine Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the forum took place at the Asian Institute of Management. The other fora will be held in Indonesia and Thailand.
Charge d’ Affaires Trevor Lewis said that, “through this project, we hope that small and medium enterprises raise the utilization of existing concessions with its FTA [free trade agreement]partners to boost the country’s gains from global trade.”
The project supports the United Kingdom’s continued work to ensure SMEs’ development, and to maintain trade and investment openness. Studies note that a 20-percent increase in trade openness translates into 4-percent increase in per capita income. He also noted that the UK looks forward to start trade negotiations with Philippines as a member of European Union as other Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-countries have signed or are close to signing an EU FTA.
During the forum, Ambassador Donald Dee provided participating SMEs with a list of opportunities in key FTA markets, while representatives from the Tariff Commission and Bureau of Customs (BOC) discussed the simplified, step-by-step procedure on how exporters should apply for tariff rulings, to determine their product classification and how to apply for a certificate of origin, which is necessary in availing FTA preferential tariffs. The Department of Trade and Investment and BOC have provided helpdesks to assist with specific issues of SME participants.