ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | August 22, 2023

August 22, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

PH calls for updating of ASEAN free trade deal 

The country’s trade chief has called on fellow ministers in Southeast Asia to upgrade the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) during the 37th Meeting of ASEAN Free Trade Area Council in Semarang, Indonesia. Secretary Alfredo Pascual highlighted that the upgrade of the ATIGA is an opportune time to address trade issues within the ASEAN, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said. Pascual mentioned that the updating the ATIGA should address the long-standing issues in availing of preferential market access within the region. Pascual also updated his fellow ASEAN trade ministers that the Philippine government remains committed to digitalize trade through the implementation of the National Single Window or TradeNet, a platform for automated and integrated licensing, permitting, clearance, and certification system of trade regulatory government agencies relative to the import and export trade of regulated goods.

BSP may extend pause until yearend

The central bank is more likely to extend its policy pause for the rest of the year, analysts said. However, a sharp depreciation of the peso due to the US Federal Reserve’s further tightening may prompt the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to resume its tightening cycle, they added. Former BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla on Friday said current Governor Eli M. Remolona, Jr. will be in a “tough spot” if the US Federal Reserve hikes borrowing costs again this September.

Incentives to accelerate EV adoption

The expansion of the incentives on electric vehicles (EVs) to include all types of EVs will help the Philippines attain the goals contained in the EV Industry Development Act (EVIDA)  Patrick Aquino, director of the Energy Utilization Management Bureau (EUMB),  said the inclusion of two- and three-wheeled vehicles, hybrid EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs as designed by EVIDA in the tariff elimination would fasttrack adoption of EVs.  At present, only battery EVs enjoy those perks under Executive Order 12.

Infra disbursements below program

The government’s infrastructure disbursement in the first semester fell below program by 1.5 percent, according to the Department of Finance. Citing preliminary data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s presentation in a press briefing last Friday showed that the government’s infrastructure disbursement in January to June amounted to P608.7 billion. This is P9.4 billion short of the half-year program of P618.1 billion. Year-on-year, it recorded a growth rate of 2.6 percent from the P593.2 billion infrastructure disbursement in the same period in 2022.

ERC seeks suspension of listing requirement

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has asked lawmakers to consider suspending the public listing requirement for energy companies for small renewable energy (RE) developers. This could help enable the entry of additional power projects in the country, Monalisa Dimalanta, ERC chairperson, said. “We have a pending request to the JCEC on this matter involving the public offer requirement or the public listing requirement that’s in Section 43 of EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001). This provision of law requires a generation company to make a public offer or a public listing of at least 15 percent of its common shares in our stock market,” Dimalanta said.

Unemployment rate likely down in July – economist

The country's unemployment rate likely settled at 4.3 to 4.4 percent in July after a slight uptick in June, an economist said. "Unemployment rate could improve in July due to the start of the rainy season, when planting activities in the agriculture sector picks up, since agriculture accounts for about 25 percent of the country’s workforce," Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview. Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the unemployment rate in June was at 4.5 percent, down from the 6.0 percent estimate in the same month last year. It was, however, higher than 4.3 percent in May this year.

Travel will represent a $15.5-trillion global industry by 2033 — WTTC

By 2033, travel is set to become a $15.5-trillion industry — accounting for more than 11.6% of the global economy. This represents a 50% increase over its $10-trillion value in 2019, when travel represented 10.4% of the world’s gross domestic product. The 10-year forecast comes from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the leading advocacy group dedicated to quantifying the industry’s economic impact. Although it was released in May as part of a 2023 World Economic Impact report on travel, the data hasn’t circulated beyond a small set of industry executives until now.

ADB urges Philipines to boost municipal bond issuance

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is pushing for greater issuance of municipal bonds in the Philippines and three other countries in Asia to expand financing options. In its working paper titled “Mobilizing Resources through Municipal Bonds: Experiences from Developed and Developing Countries,” the multilateral lender provided recommendations to promote greater issuance and acceptance of municipal bonds in the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. These four countries have sizable infrastructure requirements, adequate legal and regulatory framework for issuing and servicing municipal bonds, developing bond market infrastructure, as well as stock exchanges for listing and trading of bonds. 

DA readies mechanization plan for agri-fisheries for 2023-2028

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has issued an order  implementing the national agricultural and fisheries mechanization program until 2028. Administrative Order No. 7 series of 2023 signed by Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban on August 15 aims to formulate a National Agricultural and Fishery Mechanization Program (NAFMP) for years 2023 to 2028. The Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law mandates DA to formulate an NAFMP every six years.

‘WFH curtails growth’

Businessman Joey Concepcion, Private Sector Advisory Council lead for jobs,  is encouraging more companies to return to office to further improve mobility and increase consumption  to sustain growth. Concepcion is discouraging work-from-home (WFH) now that the pandemic is over since this effectively limits mobility. “I have mixed views (on WFH). Because  there will be less mobility, there is less consumption. No one will ride Angkas,  Joyride, or the  bus and jeepney. No one will eat outside, no one will buy clothes for the office,” Concepcion said.

Pakistan textile mills pledge to supply Philippine garment exporters 

Pakistan is seeking to build on the trade momentum created by its textile mills, which have pledged to supply the Philippine garment industry, according to an official from the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport). Robert M. Young, PhilExport trustee for the textile, yarn and fabric sector, said in a statement over the weekend that Philippine Consul General in Karachi, Muhammad Imran Yousuf, and Economic Diplomatic officer Digna Khan are planning to arrange a visit by a Pakistan business delegation soon.

PH, Sokor to sign free trade deal in Sept.

The Philippines and South Korea have agreed to sign next month their free trade agreement (FTA). This would the Philippines’ second bilateral FTA, after Japan. At the sidelines of the 55th Asean Economic Ministers on August 20 in Semarang, Indonesia, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual met with Minister Dukgeun Ahn of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy  of the Republic of Korea (ROK)  where they set the signing of the FTA at the sidelines of the 24th Asean-ROK Summit in September in Jakarta, Indonesia.The two ministers also agreed to  work on a possible supply chain resilience cooperation to ensure stability and predictability of business operations, particularly in the manufacturing sector. In time for the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Philippines-Korea diplomatic relations, both ministers are also considering organizing a Business Forum to further boost trade and investment relations.

Review of rice tariffication law pushed 

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) is expecting the Marcos administration to look deeply into pertinent provisions of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) amid lingering challenges in the local rice industry. FFF chair Leonardo Montemayor said the RTL has tied the government’s hands in addressing issues beleaguering the domestic sector on the back of skyrocketing retail prices and export bans by India and Vietnam since its enactment in 2019. Montemayor made the pronouncement following President Marcos’ recognition of the law’s “serious infirmities.” When Mr. Marcos took on the agriculture portfolio in the early part of his term, he ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reassess Republic Act No. 11203. Markets in Metro Manila sell local rice from P55 to P62 per kilogram as of Aug. 18 from P38 to P50 per kg in the same period a year ago, based on the DA’s price monitoring. Imported rice retails from P40 to P65 per kg compared to last year’s P38 to P50 per kg.

DOF: New entrants, active personnel should contribute in pension

The Department of Finance (DOF) said it may take as long as 60 years for the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) pension system to be sustainable if only new entrants will contribute to the pension fund. Under the current pension system, pensions and benefits of MUP are fully funded by the national government through annual appropriations. MUPs are also automatically promoted one rank higher upon retirement. The monthly pension is automatically indexed to the salary of those in active service.Data provided by the DOF earlier showed that pension arrearages amounted to PHP3.7 billion in 2021, PHP32.6 billion in 2022, PHP5.2 billion in 2023, with a projected PHP4.8 billion for 2024. A substitute bill earlier approved by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee mandates that new entrants and those in active service will be mandated to contribute to the pension fund.

PH to cultivate 'Bamboo Villages' to tap growing world demand

The Philippines has set its sights on capturing a small piece of the world’s billion-dollar bamboo market while simultaneously harnessing its bamboo resources to mitigate climate change. In an interview Monday, newly appointed Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano said the incumbent administration, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), is establishing a local version of the “Bamboo Villages” business model, which has been proven successful in other Asian countries. He explained that this model entails the mobilization of land, labor and capital in rural towns, and then focusing them on the cultivation and subsequent processing of bamboo.Savellano noted that by 2030, annual revenues from processed bamboo are estimated to reach USD90 billion.

United Airlines launch of Manila-SFO flights a boost to Philippines tourism 

American carrier United Airlines expects its launch of flights between Manila and San Francisco to contribute to the recovery of tourist arrivals from the US. United Airlines regional sales director for Greater China, Korea and Southeast Asia Walter Dias said he anticipates higher visitor arrivals from the US with the launch of the new route. United Airlines, one of the largest carriers in the world, will operate daily flights between Manila to San Francisco in California and vice versa starting Oct. 30, making it the only American operator to fly between the Philippines and the US.

Education department asked to devolve functions 

The industry-led advocacy group Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) is pushing to devolve some functions of the Department of Education (DepEd) to local governments to make the government agency more efficient. PBEd president Chito Salazar said this during a meeting among the business group’s board of trustees last week, noting that many of the DepEd’s functions were too centralized. He said it was “because as we see from school books, text books, classroom building, different means of teaching, even simple things like whether we should lock down or not, holiday or no holiday, these can’t be decided on a national level.” “We need to somehow devolve more of the powers down to the local government in some way, shape or form,” he added. Despite this, the PBEd official admitted that this would be a huge undertaking that would require major discussions on how to go about this.

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