DTI heightens cooperation on trade and investment with UK, MSMEs in focus

Manila, 20 August 2020 – The Philippines and the United Kingdom successfully convened the 2nd Philippines-United Kingdom Economic Dialogue on Wednesday, 19 August 2020. The dialogue was led by Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy, Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, and UK Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Daniel Pruce.

The dialogue serves as a platform to discuss means to enhance bilateral economic cooperation. Undersecretary Rodolfo highlighted, “Our economic dialogue is strategically important as it allows us to engage UK as they implement their independent trade regime. On the other hand, the Philippines is a key economic partner and ally of UK in ASEAN. This dialogue is the perfect avenue for us to lay the building blocks for a stronger and closer economic relationship in the future.”

L-R: BITR Assistant Director Angelo Benedictos, IDTPG Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo, IPOPHL Director-General Rowel Barba, and BSMED Director Jerry Clavesillas attend the virtual convening of the 2nd PH-UK Economic Dialogue.

Under the context of the pandemic, both sides tackled the challenges and opportunities presented by COVID19 to both their economies. “The pandemic has enhanced government-private sector partnerships in the Philippines and the UK. The convening of this dialogue comes at an opportune time as both our countries seek to build back better by supporting each other,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said. The meeting is DTI’s first virtual bilateral meeting with a European partner since the outbreak of COVID19.

Discussions also focused on strengthening bilateral trade flows through the Philippines’ preferential access to the UK market under the latter’s GSP Enhanced Framework. Investments in key sectors such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, and pharmaceuticals were also encouraged, as possible cooperation on these areas are seen to link Philippine and British value chains.

Moving forward, the meeting also tackled fostering MSME development by exploring innovation and industrial collaboration, which will develop the linkage between Philippine businesses and MSMEs with UK companies. DTI Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Innovation, Dr. Rafaelita Aldaba expressed, “The DTI is very keen to pursue innovation and industrial development cooperation with the UK. We have innovative British companies operating in the Philippines and this cooperation will help complement their operations here by linking them with our innovative MSMEs and big businesses. Both the Philippines and UK also have vibrant startup ecosystems. These digital startups could surely help each other grow through collaboration.”

Both sides also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Intellectual Property of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the British Embassy. The MOU, which aims to further boost the Philippines’ IP regime, was signed last 06 August 2020 and countersigned during the Dialogue. Undersecretary Rodolfo highlighted, “The Philippines has been leveraging its strong IP regime to attract investments in strategic industries. However, this MOU is not just for big businesses, but also for MSMEs. IP is becoming an even more important tool for our MSMEs to grow and be more competitive in the digital space.”

IPOPHL Director-General Rowel Barba and UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce countersign the MOU on Technical Assistance under the Financial Sector and Intellectual Property Component of the Prosperity Fund.

“We have seen digital startups rise up to the challenge posed by the COVID19 pandemic and we want them to thrive in the digital economy. Hopefully, these MSMEs would also be able to link with their British counterparts through the innovation and industrial collaboration that DTI is proposing,” Undersecretary Rodolfo added.

The meeting is held annually and was established through a Joint Statement of Intent during the 7th PH-UK High Level Meeting, which is led by the Department of Foreign Affairs, in 2017. The inaugural Economic Dialogue was held on March 2019.

In 2019, UK is the Philippines’ 18th largest trading partner (out of 226), 18th export market (out of 220), 21st import source (out of 194), and 15th largest source of approved investments. Total trade with the UK amounted to about USD1.3 billion. UK is likewise the largest trading partner of the Philippines in Europe outside of the EU.

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