Philippines to strengthen technological and economic cooperation with ASEAN and Italy

On 6 July 2022, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual virtually attended the European House – Ambrosetti’s hybrid session of the High-Level Dialogue on ASEAN-Italy Economic Relations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Forum serves as a platform for ASEAN and Italy’s economic ministers and senior officials to tackle critical issues centered on economy and technology. Specifically, it sheds a light on the macroeconomic outlook for ASEAN in the post-pandemic scenario, green technologies, and sustainable future.

In recent years, Italy and the entire ASEAN community have enjoyed considerable trade and investment relations. In 2019, the country was regarded as the 23rd largest trading partner of ASEAN, and by 2020, the region was able to export various products to Italy with a total value of USD1.68 billion.

During the forum, Trade Secretary Pascual highlighted three critical areas for collaboration: (1) Aerospace industry, (2) Renewable energy and sustainable consumption, and (3) Smart technologies that will help strengthen the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

He shared that the Philippines is currently building two massive airport complexes namely: Clark International Airport and New Manila International Airport which proves that the country’s domestic aerospace industry is not building from scratch.

“The newly established Philippine Space Agency is gearing up for space technology R&D, including space data for disaster risk reduction and environment monitoring. We can collaborate significantly on using remote sensing for agriculture and the environment,” Secretary Pascual said.

Likewise, the Secretary mentioned that the country is currently working on developing an ecosystem that will help support the production and assembly of electronic vehicles (EV), which strengthens its position as an ideal investment destination for Italian EV makers.

“Our country also has a robust regime for strategic trade management, intellectual property protection, and labor protection. These, apart from solid competencies in electronics, could be leveraged to support electric vehicle and battery manufacturing,” he added.

Further, he mentioned that the country is focusing on three strategic industry clusters that will help drive high-tech industrialization such as electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries, IT and business process management services, Artificial Intelligence, and data analytics, and digital health products, pharmaceutical, and pharmaceutical products.

He, likewise, expressed that both the Philippines and Italy could explore possible solutions in battling climate change as both are currently facing threats brought about by the said phenomenon.

In closing, the trade chief expressed optimism about strengthening the relations between the Philippines and Italy, as both countries look forward to technological and policy cooperation in areas of sustainable production and consumption, green product innovation, and circular economy. Aside from Trade Secretary Pascual, the Forum was attended by Honorable Ministers Luigi Di Maio, YB Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Sok Chenda Sophea, Deputy Minister Manlio Di Stefano, Coordinating Minister Airlangga Hartarto, and ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General Satvinder Singh.

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