November 21, 2023
ECCP at Work
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is lobbying the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to simplify requirements that its members say make it “difficult” to import goods. ECCP Vice President Helen Baisa said that traders need to renew meeting these requirements on an annual basis. “In the last couple of months, we requested the BoC to simplify [the requirements] or perhaps to actually make [certificates’] validity longer because it’s difficult [to address],” added Baisa.
The Philippines’ balance of payments (BoP) position swung to a surplus in October, ending six straight months of contraction, the central bank said. Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed the country’s BoP surplus widened to $1.5 billion in October from $711 million in the same month a year ago. Month on month, this was a turnaround from the $414-million deficit in September.
The Department of Finance (DOF) vowed to help the private sector create an inclusive and sustainable business environment in the Philippines. Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno recognized the vital contribution of the private sector in the Philippines' development process. “The Marcos, Jr. administration stands ready to support and collaborate with the private sector in transforming the Philippine business landscape into one that is genuinely inclusive and sustainable,” Diokno said.
Private sector economists’ inflation expectations have declined slightly, as they now expect average inflation to settle at the upper end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) target band by next year. Results from the BSP’s survey of external forecasters in November showed that the average inflation forecast of analysts for 2024 was slightly lowered to 4% from 4.1% previously. This is within the BSP’s 2-4% target band. On the other hand, the mean inflation forecast for 2023 and 2025 was kept at 6.1% and 3.5%, respectively.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it is committed to pursue its digitalization plans together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), following a recent approval of a $400 million loan from the multilateral agency. The ADB approved the loan to help the efforts of the Philippines and the BIR to modernize tax administration, systems and processes. “The BIR commits to pursuing the digitalization and modernization of its services. We commit to being a service-oriented agency. We thank the ADB for being a partner in nation-building,” BIR commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. said.
Air passenger traffic in the country has reached 50.9 million in the first nine months of the year, surpassing the full year of 2022’s 31.5 million air passengers, according to latest data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). CAB data showed that international passengers stood at 14.5 million and domestic, 36.4 million, from January to September this year. These are significantly higher than the full year of 2022’s 9.8 million and 22.5 million international and domestic passengers, respectively.
The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said the government’s large-scale projects undertaken with the private sector have the potential to upend the status quo in the infrastructure-deficient country. “Our transport projects highlight the efforts of our government in pushing the infrastructure agenda. Armed with innovative strategies and tools, we plan to disturb the status quo in the transport sector,” Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said at the 4th Philippine Economic briefing in the US, which was live streamed on social media. In August, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved three more projects for the infrastructure flagship project program, increasing the pipeline to 197 projects, valued at P8.71 trillion.
The Philippines was singled out as a “regional leader” within ASEAN in curtailing illicit trade and piracy, the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) said. “Strengthening interagency and interdepartmental cooperation is essential in the fight against illicit trade,” TRACIT said in its “Fighting Fakes, Contraband and Illicit Trade: Spotlight on The Philippines” report. It added that the Philippines is also a leader in promoting domestic cooperation, particularly in intellectual property coordination, because of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the 15-member National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR).
Experts propose the crafting of a Philippine sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) roadmap where the government can consider mandating and/or incentivizing the use SAF. In a recent session of the Trade and Industry Development Talks on November 13, the Board of Investments (BOI) said the Philippines is strategically poised to become a SAF manufacturing hub considering the local availability of feedstock. But investments in infrastructure should also be considered in establishing and increasing SAF manufacturing capability. While SAF is an industry that is not yet present in the Philippines, the BOI said it offers significant market potential considering net zero carbon commitment from the global aviation industry.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) proposed that the Philippines extend the validity of import clearances, which it said will provide relief to its members shipping in goods. ECCP Vice-President Helen Grace Baisa said that as importers, European businesses are required to obtain clearances from the Bureau of Customs (BoC). “You have to renew (some of them) on an annual basis,” Ms. Baisa said. “But in the last couple of months, we requested that the BoC simplify that or perhaps to make the validity longer, because it’s difficult.”
The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) last week signed with the government led by the University of the Philippines Public Administration Foundation a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the operationalization of a P280 million US-funded technical assistance for the Partnership for Sustainable Development and Investment in Mineral Extraction and Processing. The partnership agreement is a comprehensive program to help establish the Philippines’ positioning as a major global value chain player in the clean energy sector by maximizing the country’s mineral potential and increasing value addition through mineral processing.
The Philippine’s nuclear cooperation pact with the US is expected to address the Philippines’ need for reliable baseload power currently filled by coal-fired power plants, analysts said, though its readiness for nuclear power remains in question. “As we push for integration of more renewables in the Philippine energy mix, we fully understand the need for more baseload power to balance the system,” Jose M. Layug, Jr., president of Developers of Renewable Energy AdvanceMent, Inc., said in a Viber message.
The Philippines is expected to get a new air defense system next year, including more radars to bolster its air defense capability, a senator said during plenary debates on the 2024 budget on Monday, amid increasing tensions with China. “By next year, we will witness the arrival of ground-based air defense systems and we are going to have additional radars that would be integrated into the system,” Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, who sponsored the Defense department’s budget, told the plenary.
The Philippine chemical industry has updated its roadmap in response to the preference of the market for sustainable products. Jeffrey Mijares, executive director of the Samahan sa Pilipinas ng mga Industriyang Kimika (SPIK) said the chemical industry roadmap for 2022-2030 has been replaced by the Philippine Chemical Industry Roadmap 2023-2028. Mijares said the new roadmap is themed “Enabling Industry Linkages, Sustainability, Safer Materials and Operations, and Productivity,” and spells out the short-, medium- and long-term development plans of the industry over the next five years.