More trade and employment for Filipinos after APEC

Vibrant trade relations are expected to create employment opportunities for more Filipinos following the successful 2015 APEC Leaders’ Meeting which the Philippines hosted last week.

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“The bilateral meetings of the Philippines with Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Russia, and the United States of America, resulted [in the] identification of potential investment areas and employment opportunities, as well as continued stronger trade relations [and] export opportunities for Philippine products and services with these APEC member-economies,” said employment secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.

Staring off with Australia, potential investments include processed food and agribusiness, IT-BPM, engineering services, infrastructure and other private-public partnership (PPP) projects, auto parts exports, and manufacturing.[1]

“We see the Philippines exhibiting healthy export trade relations with Australia for its paper and paperboard products, semi-manufactured forms of gold, lead acid for starting piston engines, heat exchange units, and static converters (e.g., rectifiers),” she said.

With Japan, the bilateral meeting of President Aquino III with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could pave the way for more Japanese investments in the country’s copper mining industry and manufacturing sector, specifically for auto parts, printer, and printing parts, and medical devices, as well as investments in the services sector, particularly on IT-BPM and gaming development.

From the Philippines’ end, the country exports products to Japan, including photosensitive semiconductor devices, ignition wiring sets, and other wiring devices used in transportation of goods and persons could increase. Increased exports of copper ores and concentrates, wood joinery, and carpentry could also grow.

Moreover, the PH-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is expected to improve market access for Philippine meat, bananas, pineapples, tuna, and raw cane sugar to the Japanese market, and relax entry requirements and improvements in the training and working conditions of Filipino health workers in Japan. The agreement also explores the possibility of expanding the JPEPA government-to-government framework for the deployment of other Filipino professionals to Japan.

With Korea, the trade agreement covers investment opportunities for shipbuilding, automotive manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, agribusiness, renewable energy, banking and finance, tourism, infrastructure and PPP, including the other labor-intensive industries migrating out of China, such as shoes, jewellery, and garments.

On the other hand, Philippine exports to Korea are crude petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, digital monolithic integrated circuits, copper ores and concentrates, bananas, and tobacco.

The Philippines had also established trade agreements with Mexico in the areas of infrastructure, energy, manufacturing of electronics, food/agribusiness, pharmaceutical and medicine, aerospace, fabricated metal products, and consumer products, paving the way for more Mexican businesses to operate in the Philippines in addition to support maintenance and sourcing services, building materials, interactive museum and learning centers.

At present, the country exports ignition wiring sets and other wiring devices for transportation, digital monolithic integrated circuits, and other parts and accessories of motor vehicles, such as unassembled fuel tanks and engine brackets, and printed circuits and gear boxes to Mexico.

In tourism, the Philippines and Mexico signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation seeking to develop tourism sector activities, particularly in the areas of research and development, education and training, promotion, and tourism investments.

New Zealand’s potential investments which could create more employment opportunities are in processed food and agribusiness, IT-BPM services, engineering services, infrastructure and other PPP projects, auto parts exports/ and manufacturing. The identified Philippine exports to New Zealand are banana, salmon, sacks and bags, other instruments and apparatus for telecommunications, and lead acid for starting piston engines.

Another South American country with which the Philippines could develop increased trade is Peru, which has identified investment opportunities in the country’s  infrastructure, energy, manufacturing of electronics, food or agribusiness, pharmaceutical and medicine, aerospace, fabricated metal products, and consumer products. Presently, Philippine exports to Peru are computer accessories, clothing, milling equipment, carrageenan, seaweeds and other algae products, and electrical apparatus and parts for line telephony or line telegraphy.

The Philippines welcomes Papua New Guinea investments in infrastructure or PPP, IT-BPM, shipbuilding, energy, and agribusiness, as well as potential investment and trade in the areas of cannery, consulting, engineering, building and construction, services sector, retail, ports development, air services, agriculture and agro-industries (exchange of professionals or scientists, information, and technology; and collaborative studies on agriculture and cooperation in rice farming and production).

Philippine exports to PNG of tuna, skipjack, and bonito; other non-inflatable rowing boats, canoes, and vessels, sports; stoppers, caps and lids, capsules for bottles, and sealants and other accessories, fishing nets, and other confectionery products are expected to also increase.

In Eastern Europe, the Philippines expects more robust trade with Russia, which is keen on investing in the country’s IT-BPM sector, processed and specialty food manufacture, non-renewable and renewable energy, design-driven products, and aerospace. These could propel increase in exports to Russia of desiccated coconut, bananas, carrageenan, seaweeds and other algae, gas-fuelled and non-refillable pocket lighters, ignition wiring sets, and other wiring devices used in vehicles, aircraft, or ships.

With the United States as the country’s biggest trade partner, the Philippines will benefit more from American investments in the IT-BPM sector, food manufacture, and design-driven products. It could also see more investments in electronics manufacturing, manufacturing of energy products, pharmaceuticals, and aerospace products, as well as in infrastructure and energy. On the other hand, the country could expect increased exports to the US of coconut oil, digital monolithic integrated circuits, storage units, static converters, ignition wiring sets and other wiring devices used in vehicles, aircraft, or ships.

“We at the DOLE supports the inclusive growth strategy of the APEC region by expanding access to opportunities and enabling people to realize their full potential, which will result to more productive employment opportunities, dynamic economic growth, and greater well-being,” said Baldoz.

– From the Department of Labor and Employment


[1] The Philippines has inked a Memorandum of Understanding with Australia covering exchange of information on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems, joint implementation of collaborative projects, and facilitation of links between governments, industry organizations, and TVET bodies.