PHILIPPINE and Japanese firms are set to sign over 20 business agreements at the end of the month, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which said the deals are worth close to P300 billion ($5.74 billion) and hold the potential to create at least eighty thousand jobs.
The DTI said the deals will be signed during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s visit to Japan for the Nikkei 25th International Conference on The Future of Asia on May 30 to 31 where he will be accompanied by a government and business delegation.
“Japanese investors remain bullish on the sustained growth momentum under the administration of President Duterte, given its aggressive infrastructure build-up, meaningful investment and financial reforms and demographic advantages,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez was quoted in a statement Monday.
The investment pledges will focus on infrastructure, manufacturing, electronics, medical devices, business process outsourcing (BPO), power, electricity, transport, automotive, food manufacturing, and marine manpower.
The DTI will also hold a business forum and roundtable discussions with Japanese investors, which will serve as an opportunity for more in-depth business-to-business interactions.
In 2018, Japan was the Philippines’ second-largest trading partner with total trade of $20 billion — $9.5 billion worth of exports to Japan, and $10.5 billion worth of imports from Japan.
The country is the Philippines’ third-largest export market and source of imports.
The Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is currently being reviewed, with Manila seeking easier market access for agricultural products.
Meanwhile, Tokyo is requesting lower tariffs on automobile and steel products, among others.
The Philippines also has a multilateral trading agreement with Japan under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
If the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between the 10 ASEAN member-states and six Asia-Pacific states goes ahead, the pact will effectively be the Philippines’ third free trade agreement with Japan. — Janina C. Lim