MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will conduct more information sessions on free trade agreements entered into by the country this year to enable more firms to benefit from such deals.
Speaking at the Doing Business Using Free Trade Agreements: Manila Stakeholders Dialogue Forum, DTI’s Bureau of Export Trade Promotion director Senen Perlada said the department plans to hold 125 sessions under the Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) program this year, higher than the total of 116 sessions conducted in 2012.
Last year’s 116 sessions were attended by 11,169 participants which represented 5,833 companies.
“Why are we doing this? We need to raise the level of awareness on free trade agreements,” Perlada said.
He said the free trade agreements open a lot of opportunities for local companies in terms of increasing exports to overseas markets.
The DBFTA program, which was launched in 2010, is a series of business information sessions conducted nationwide to increase exporter awareness of the country’s free trade agreements.
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Currently the Philippines has free trade agreements with Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The country has also entered into free trade agreements through the ASEAN with China, Korea, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The DBFTA is among the activities being undertaken by the DTI for the country to increase exports.
Under the Philippine Export Development Plan, the country’s total exports are targeted to increase to $120 billion by 2016.
Last year, the country’s total exports amounted to $70.594 billion, short of the $70.9 billion goal.
Merchandise exports were valued at $51.994 billion in 2012, lower than the $53.13 billion target for that year.
Service exports, meanwhile, were valued at $18.6 billion, beating the $17.77 billion goal.