THE governments of the Philippines and Czech Republic said they have formed a Joint Economic Commission (JEC) which will facilitate economic coordination between the two countries.
In a statement Tuesday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the JEC met for the first time last week in Prague, where delegates from the two countries agreed to initiate talks on possible agreements on trade, investment and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the Czech Republic.
“The convening of the JEC is a strategic means to engage individual EU Member States. The JEC allows us to identify and harness complementation between two of the fastest growing economies in each other’s regions,” Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo was quoted as saying.
The DTI said the two countries may explore opportunities to work together in manufacturing, investment and banking, agriculture and food, energy, transportation, health, tourism, environmental technology and disaster risk reduction management.
“The JEC allows the Philippines to capitalize on the Czech Republic’s expertise in environmental technologies in water treatment and management, modern agricultural equipment and technologies, and building efficient transportation systems,” it said.
It added that the Philippines may tap companies in the Czech Republic for manufacturing services in aerospace, electronics and automative sectors.
“Closer collaboration in these areas will be made easier through the signing of the Memorandum of Intent between the Board of Investments and CzechInvest that aims to promote and facilitate investments,” the DTI said.
Mr. Rodolfo noted he wants the JEC to acknowledge the Philippines and the Czech Republic as “gateways to Asia and Europe” to “serve as viable markets for each other’s products.”
“In the same way that the Czech Republic is one of the Philippines’ strongest supporters in the EU, we invite them to see the Philippines as their friend in ASEAN,” he said.
In February, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen told reporters he wants the Philippines to increase its exports to the EU. “Exports are basically at the same level… I would like the Philippines to benefit from the European market more than they are currently. I think there’s a very big potential for Philippine exports to the EU,” he said then.
The DTI said that in 2018, total trade with the Czech Republic was $361 million, making it the Philippines’ 33rd largest trading partner, 23rd-largest export market and 42nd-largest supplier of imports. — Denise A. Valdez