The Philippines and Indonesia recently conducted their virtual 8th Meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade, Investments, Handicrafts and Shipping on 11 August 2020. The JWGwas led by Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy of the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, and Mr. Iman Pambagyo, Director-General for International Trade Negotiations of the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia.
Undersecretary Rodolfo highlighted, “This is the first bilateral meeting convened by the Philippines since the onset of the pandemic. Convening the JWG with Indonesia is of strategic importance to the Philippines given the many commonalities we share. With the challenging times ahead, working together as two of the biggest economies in ASEAN to address the unprecedented crisis is the best recourse.”
Discussions focused on strengthening bilateral trade and investment flows through the finalization and signing this year of a number of Memoranda of Understanding on investment promotion, halal products quality assurance, and the creative economy.
Both sides also discussed the proposed conduct of industry dialogues on copper and textiles, capitalizing on each other’s complementation in terms of industrial strengths and resource endownments. The industry dialogues which are also proposed to be convened within the year will serve as a platform for information exchange on best practices and current industry regulations, and discussion of collaboration activities, with the participation from both the government and private sector. In the long term, these dialogues are seen as avenues to boost the manufacturing capabilities of our industrial sectors through the infusion of investments and technology.
Proposals were also brought forward by Indonesia on fisheries cooperation and border trade. “The Philippines is committed to consider the proposals given its relevance to both the Philippines and Indonesia as archipelagic states with common borders and taking into account the developments in sub-regional integration,” Undersecretary Rodolfo added.
The Philippines and Indonesia also committed to work on outstanding issues with the end view of enhancing the business environment affecting the operations of both sides’ businesses.
The JWG serves as a focused mechanism to discuss trade, investments, economic cooperation and other issues affecting the business environment, apart from the regular engagement of both countries under the ASEAN framework.
In 2019, Indonesia is the Philippines’ 8th trading partner (out of 225), 13th export market (out of 220), 6th import source (out of 191), and 27th source of approved investments. Total trade with Indonesia amounted to USD 7.5 billion.
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