MANILA – The vision of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for free flow of trade and investments within the region through free trade agreement (FTA) has increased the Philippines’ intra-ASEAN trade.
Board of Investments (BOI) Division Chief Fe del Rosario said the country’s trade value with ASEAN members gained by 19 percent from 2010 to 2014.
From USD109.7 billion in 2010, the country’s intra-ASEAN trade continuously grew to USD111.8 billion in 2011, USD117.4 billion in 2012, USD119.1 billion in 2013, and USD129.6 billion in 2014.
Through the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), the economic bloc eliminated tariff on 99 percent of goods traded among ASEAN members except for maize, cassava, sweet potato, poultry, swine, and sugar with 5 percent tariff rate while rice still has import duty of 35 percent.
Del Rosario said that ATIGA has made Philippine exports to other ASEAN markets more competitive with the zero tariff rate. This also encouraged more Filipino enterprises to export their products in ASEAN.
She added that the FTA also lowers production cost in the country due to tariff liberalization that is also attractive for multinational firms to invest in the Philippines.
“Most of inquiries now in BOI are concerned with the impact of ASEAN integration to their business,” said del Rosario.
“FTAs has been benefitting our industries and our country as a whole,” she added.
She stressed that the FTAs, when utilized properly, become engine of economic growth and create more jobs for the country.