TO INCREASE trade and facilitate more investment flows, the Philippine and Indian governments are currently in negotiations on a bilateral preferential trade agreement (PTA), that will reduce and eliminate tariffs on various goods.
“We are definitely looking at trade opportunities. We want to see Cebu selling to a larger Indian market and Indian companies to also do the same here in the Philippines. Thus, we are currently talking with the Department of Trade and Industry about PTAs to address issues on tariff,” said Indian Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran, in his visit to Cebu on Nov. 14, 2023.
Negotiations on a bilateral PTA were made during the 5th India-Philippines Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and his counterpart Indian Minister of External Affairs (EAM) Jaishankar in New Delhi on June 29, 2023.
A PTA is a trade pact between countries that grants preferential access to certain products or services by reducing or eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers.
Kumaran said now is a good sign to strengthen trade cooperation for both countries, especially since Philippine exports to India are growing more than Indian exports to the Philippines.
“At the end of the day, economic and business cooperation is the driver of the India and the Philippines’ partnership,” Kumaran said.
Potential sectors for increased bilateral trade and investment include financial technology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and information and communications technology.
DTI- Export Marketing Bureau assistant director Jhino Ilano as quoted in reports said there is an unrealized export potential in India, estimated at US$566.92 million.
These potential exports include electronics, halal-based products, personal care and beauty products, coconut products, and other organic products such as dairy products and eggs.
There is at present an Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-India Free Trade Agreement where the Philippines enjoys reduced tariffs for 94 percent of exports to India.
India currently ranks as the country’s 15th largest trading partner with a 1.31 percent share of total trade with the Philippines.
It is 16th among the country’s export markets with a 0.89 percent share of total exports, and 14th among import suppliers with a 1.53 percent share of total imports.
During the recently concluded Indian Business Roadshow-Cebu Edition on Nov. 14-15, Indian Business Forum (IBF), a business chamber sought to establish a robust alliance with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI). In response, CCCI pledged essential support, aiming to enhance business opportunities and foster connections for the Indian business community.
IBF’s focus is on cultivating foreign direct investment.
The partnership garnered the support of several government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Tourism, and Department of Trade and Industry.
These agencies expressed their commitment to collaborate, extend assistance, and offer services to IBF as needed.