The United Kingdom government is in the process of working with Manila to facilitate agreements on trade particularly on simplifying arrangements for large procurements, according to British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils.
“We’re in the process of working with the government to develop an MOU [memorandum of understanding] to facilitate G2G [government-to-government] agreements on trade,” Beaufils told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine-British Meat Trade Mission organized by the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) on Thursday in Makati City.
“It’s about how we could simplify our G2G arrangements for big procurements,” the UK ambassador added.
Beaufils said, however, that they are still “at the beginning of the process” so she can’t go into too much detail.
Asked if this G2G agreement will cover discussions on further lowering tariffs, the UK ambassador said the tariff discussions will fall under the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS).
The DCTS lowers or removes tariffs on more than 150 products. Its coverage extends to the country’s agricultural products such as tomatoes, milk and cream, cheese, grains, tropical fruits, and animal and vegetable oils.
Meanwhile, BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson said the Philippines is the second largest market after China in terms of British meat exports.
“Last 2022 is a particularly strong year. I mean, supply grew by over 50 percent,” Nelson said, adding that this year is “less so” which he said can be attributed to worldwide challenges.
“So think this year will be lower than last year,” he said.
But the BCCP official expressed optimism that British exports to the Philippines will see a “strong rebound” in 2024 but the recovery will “probably” be felt towards the latter half of next year.
“It won’t happen probably in the initial part of the year but further on. And I think overall, what we’re seeing here is the fact that while we’ve started this to address obviously, the shortage of the supply, which was driven primarily because of the [African swine fever], which of course affected the local hog population. We’re looking here to establish long-term relations,” Nelson said.
He said pork is still “the most promising product” among British goods being exported to the Philippines because pork is an important part of the Filipinos’ diet.
According to the UK government’s website, total trade in goods and services which is the sum of exports and imports between the UK and Philippines was £2.9 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023, an increase of 32 percent from the same period in 2022.
Of the £2.9 billion, UK exports to Philippines amounted to £1.3 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023, a 31.3 percent increase from the same period in 2022.
Meanwhile, UK imports from Philippines amounted to £1.6 billion, a 32.5 percent increase from the same period a year ago.
The UK Trade and Investment factsheet also noted that Philippines was the UK’s 59th largest trading partner during the period.