Despite economic challenges, British businessmen remained confident in the Philippine economy and growth in bilateral trade, especially on the growing exports of pork and strong interest in the country’s infrastructure.
Chris Nelson, Chairman of British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said during an ANC interview Monday, Aug. 28, that despite prevailing higher interest rate due to inflation concerns both in the Philippines and UK affecting their GDP growth, the “prospects still remain very good.”
Latest figure showed that total trade between the Philippines and UK in 2022 reached an all-time high of 2.6 billion pounds, equally shared by the two trading partners.
The UK economy grew 0.7 percent only while the Philippine GDP was lower at 4.3 percent in the previous quarter.
“Yes (there are) challenges but we’ve continued to see growth and as you’ve noticed, 2.6 billion pounds is another high despite the challenges, inflation issues, and obviously some of those factors coming through and yet we still managed to grow to new highs,” said Nelson.
“What we see is there are opportunities, I think, obviously investments in infrastructure,” he added, citing strong interest by UK companies in renewable energy projects as also reported by Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual during a recent Philippine investment roadshow in Europe.
“I think, while there are challenges, one of our key issues is to continue to highlight to UK companies opportunities and also to Philippine companies,” he said.
Nelson further cited the recently launched Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), the generalized system of preferences where the UK government grants zero duty on the exports of its trading partners including the Philippines, as another very crucial trade booster for the Philippines.
“That tariff scheme is going to be much beneficial,” he said.
Aside from the DCTS, both parties are also looking forward to someday forge a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
But, even without the FTA, he said the current cooperation between the Philippines and the UK is at an all-time high will continue to grow.
To further boost trade, Nelson expressed confidence that the government will extend for another year Executive Order 10, which grants zero duty on the importation of crucial agricultural staple, such as rice, corn, and pork.
“We’re confident and we would strongly endorse the extension of EO 10, which will conclude at the end of this year,” he said.
Pork exports from the UK to the Philippines went up 34 percent in 2022, which he said has helped control inflation in food prices.
He also called for the importance of passing the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act to help the domestic agricultural products and farmers. He said that once passed into law, this bill can also help traders. At present, there are two largest importers of British pork.
In the recent Property Forum by the BCCP, British-owned management and consultancy firms Santos Knight Frank and JLL painted an outstanding interest in the Philippine property sector, which contributes six percent to the overall economy.
The high vacancy rate in office space is starting to come down given the strong demand for co-working office. Property consultancy firms are seeing growth in the mid-price residential sector.