MANILA — Business groups of the Philippines and South Africa are exploring stronger bilateral trade relations through enhanced cooperation.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Alfredo M. Yao said the country’s business group will be taking advantage of trade opportunities in South Africa as the African nation is shifting its trade focus from Europe to Asia.
He mentioned that PCCI and South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) are renewing a memorandum of agreement that would create strategic partnership of Filipino and South African businesses.
PCCI officials, including Yao, chair Miguel Varela, international trade director Benedicto Yujuico, construction and housing committee chair Danilo Madlansacay, and business councils committee chair Ramon Escueta recently met with South African Ambassador Martinus Niccolas Slabber and Philippines-Southern Africa Business Councils president Ralph Lim Joseph and discussed the revival of economic cooperation which will be necessary in facilitating exchange of business missions and activities.
Ambassador Slabber noted that he will discuss with the SACCI draft memorandum of agreement to re-establish bilateral efforts to boost trade between the Philippines and South Africa.
Since 2013, South Africa started to look opportunities in Asian countries with high economic growth rates.
The Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia with gross domestic product (GDP) expansion at an average of 6.3 percent for the last five years.
PCCI’s Yao noted that South African businessmen can locate investments in the Philippines that will be qualified for tariff-free entry to the ASEAN integrated economies and for accessing 600 million consumers of Southeast Asia, many of them belonging to middle-income households with increasing purchasing power.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that bilateral trade between the Philippines and South Africa totaled USD328 million in 2013 in favor of the latter.
Auto parts such as transmissions, coconut products, and other high-value-added products are the country’s top exports to South Africa.
On the other noted, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said the Philippines is the leading supplier of fish products to South Africa, followed by Thailand, Peru and Russia.