The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is looking at extending the European Union business partnership with the Philippines to help widen the country’s business opportunities, it’s top official said on Tuesday.
At the sidelines of the 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Forum in Manila, ECCP executive director Florian Gottein said the European chamber would be proposing a two-year extension of the EU-Philippines Business Network (EPBN) program, which is set to expire in December this year.
“We’re looking at extending it. We hope that we also see more projects being realized here in the next couple of years,” Gottein said in an interview.
The five-year EPBN project, co-funded by the EU and implemented by a consortium of ECCP, aims to provide a support framework for European firms, particularly SMEs, interested in exporting to or investing in the Philippines.
Gottein said the ECCP is targeting to increase European exports and investments in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region “to set up shop here, to invest here, to produce here and to team up with local partners.”
To do this, he said the EPBN adopts a threefold approach of outreach, support services and advocates for a level playing field for EU SMEs, which enables the network to provide a strong support system at every stage of market access to the Philippine market for interested businesses.
Data from the EPBN showed that the EU initiative to seize business opportunities in the Philippines has a total cost of 4,375,000 euros or P274.75 million.
Much is needed to be improved in the Philippine agriculture sector to make the country a top player in the European market, according to Gottein.
These include improving the country’s farm mechanization level and making the sector be technology-driven to boost food productivity, he added.
Gotten emphasized that ECCP’s initiative to open the huge European market to Filipino exporters has been strengthened in the previous years.
“[We’ve been discussing] about what Europe can do to help the Filipino farmers to step up basically on improving their yields, new technologies, mechanization, through innovative procedures,” he said.
“We are helping local farmers by buying their products and also training them, spreading out all over the country, establishing buying stations to cut out the middlemen so that at the end of the day Filipno farmers have higher price for their produces and products,” Gotten added.
The executive director said ECCP is collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help Filipino exporters “step up and meet the quality European target and standards” through touring around the country to inform exporters what items they can export to Europe.
Gottein believes the Philippines can export to Europe more than 6,000 products at zero tariff which will make a
“huge competitive advantage” compared to other countries in the Asean region.
He said Philippine exports to Europe have increased by more than 30 percent from late 2016 until late 2017, making the Europe now the second largest export market for Philippine companies.
To expand this growth, Gottein said the ECCP will continue collaborating with the Philippine government, particularly the Department of Agriculture and DTI, to help farmers increase their yield and provide exporters markets for their products.
“[On the EU-Philippine Business Summit on October 18] we will hand over all these recommendations based on our experiences and observations to the Philippine government so that we can fully, together develop the economy in the right direction,” he said.