MANILA—Ranking officials of the Philippines and Mexico vowed to further strengthen trade and bilateral relations between the two countries.
In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Mexican Ambassador to Manila Julio Camarena Villasenor have talked about the double taxation issue and visa arrangements for Mexican nationals visiting the Philippines.
Mexicans may visit the Philippines visa-free but only for 29 days while Filipinos are allowed to enter Mexico visa-free for six months if they have Schengen, US or Japan visa.
Dominguez told the Ambassador that he would talk with officials of concerned government agencies about the possibility of reciprocating Mexico’s rules on this issue.
He also vowed to help push for the measure pending in Senate regarding the Philippine-Mexico agreement on avoidance of double taxation.
He thanked Camarena on Mexico’s support on the Philippines’ drive against illegal drugs, through an exchange of information on drug trafficking.
Possibility of a currency agreement was raised by Dominguez while Camarena proposed a free trade deal between the countries, citing that Philippines’ Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez welcomed the idea during their meeting in October 2016.
”Our country has a common history. In fact, the galleon trade (between Mexico and the Philippines) was the first true free trade agreement,” Camarena said.
The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade started in 1565 and served as the first commercial relations between the two countries.
Dominguez informed Camarena that the DOF targets to send a mission team to Mexico, to be led by Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua, to study the Mexican government’s sugar tax implementation.
Last year, both governments discussed the formation of a joint economic committee in a bid to further increase bilateral trade and investments between the two countries.
In that meeting, Camarena said the largest investment of Mexico in East Asia is in the Philippines, thus, the plan to make Manila its economic gateway in the region.
As of 2015, Mexico is the Philippines’ 28th trading partner and 19th export market.
Philippines-based business have about USD600 million investments in Mexico and among these are Enrique Razon’s International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and Ayala Corporation’s Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI).
In turn, Mexico has about USD2.8 billion in investments in the Philippines such as the operations of Cemex, its largest cement and building materials manufacturer, and Coke-FEMSA, the world’s biggest franchise bottler of Coca Cola products.