MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) aims to promote growth in Northern Mindanao through increased merchandise exports from that region to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In a statement, the DTI said it wants to encourage exporters in the region to increase their merchandise shipments to Southeast Asia by informing them of trade opportunities available there.
To encourage greater trade between Northern Mindanao and Southeast Asian countries, the DTI will conduct information sessions focused on the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) under the Doing Business in Free Trade Area (DBFTA) program next week in Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City, and Ozamiz City.
The DBFTA is a series of business information sessions to be conducted nationwide to increase exporter awareness of the country’s trade agreements.
The information sessions to be held in Northern Mindanao will discuss how businesses there could increase trade with Southeast Asian countries.
Through the information sessions, the DTI wants businesses, the academe and other stakeholders in Northern Mindanao “to increase their awareness as well as foster appreciation for the benefits of free trade agreements, and (learn about) how they could avail of these benefits.”
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Among the benefits offered by free trade agreements are preferential tariff rates and harmonized standards.
The DTI noted that as of the end of 2012, Northern Mindanao’s merchandise exports amounted to $1.17 billion.
The region’s exports include fresh and processed fruits, marine products, beverages, food products, coconut products, chemicals, construction materials, electrical parts, glass manufactures, machinery, medical supplies, minerals, oils, paper manufactures, rubber, furniture, housewares, fashion accessories, footwear and toys.
The AEC, which will become a reality by December 2015, will transform Southeast Asia into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor as well as flow of capital.
The ASEAN currently has free trade agreements among its member countries as well as with China, India, Korea, Japan and Australia and New Zealand.
The ASEAN is also working on the ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation involving its six partners.
The Philippines, being part of the ASEAN, is a signatory to all the ASEAN’s free trade agreements.
The Philippines also has a bilateral agreement with Japan through the Philippines Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.