Manila hopes to improve trade balance with Jakarta

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. center left, and his wife Madame Louise Araneta Marcos, left, share a light moment Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center right, and his wife Iriana during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, Indonesia, Monday, Sept, 5, 2022.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, Pool)

THE country is poised to further increase its imports from Indonesia despite its aspiration to reverse its “trade imbalance” with its Southeast Asian neighbor. 

This after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. announced on Tuesday that he talked with Indonesian President Joko Widodo about the possible

importation of more commodities for the country’s agricultural and energy needs. 

“We talked about the possibility of them supplying us with fertilizer, with Urea of Indonesia. Increasing its trade also for our energy because much of our coal comes from Indonesia,” Marcos said in a press conference prior to his flight to Singapore, the second of his two State visits in Asean.

Based on data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the country’s trade deficit with Indonesia was at US$7.53 billion.

Of the country’s total trade with Indonesia in 2021, US$8.4 billion were imports, while only US$867.7 million were exports. 

Trade imbalance 

Marcos said he wants to eventually increase the country’s exports to Indonesia. 

“The trade between Indonesia and the Philippines increased by 50 percent in ‘21. ‘Although there’s a trade imbalance really between Indonesia and the Philippines. So I said we should find ways to turn that around,” Marcos said.  

The President is eyeing the recent “significant” trade agreements, which he secured during his recently concluded three-day State Visit in Indonesia, to help address the so-called trade imbalance.   

“We had two business meetings during this trip here in Jakarta and in those meetings, there were those [agreements] which were signed or are still being finalized. I mean you know, MOUs (memorandum of understanding) and LOIs (letter of intent) are only the beginning of these things. But we are determined that it will not end there,” Marcos said.

Signed agreements

In a press statement on Tuesday, Press secretary Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles disclosed that among the agreements signed during the Jakarta Business Roundtable Meeting last Monday were the US$822 million in investments to textiles, garments, renewable energy, satellite gateway, wire global technology, and agrifood.

Also signed was the US$7-billion infrastructure for unsolicited public-private partnerships (PPPs) such as a C-5 4-level elevated expressway as well as the US$662 million trade value for supply of coal and fertilizer.

“We anticipate that these will generate at least 7,000 new jobs,” Angeles said.

During the meeting, Marcos said he also encouraged Indonesian businessmen to consider PPPs with the Philippine government or to have joint ventures with local businesses.  

“They all committed…Many of them are already actually involved in the Philippines. So they said they will be just expanding their involvement. They want to expand,” Marcos said. 

Image credits: AP/Achmad Ibrahim, Pool


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