DTI, MDA set to use free trade agreements


THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in partnership with the Mindanao Development Authority launched a trade education and advocacy campaign which aims to leverage the benefits offered by the country’s free trade agreements (FTAs).

With the theme “Empowering Philippine Export Industries of Northeastern Mindanao,” DTI said the campaign aims to “optimize” the benefits offered by the country’s free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, Philippine- European Free Trade Association (Efta), Philippine Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (Pjepa) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) trade agreements.

DTI in a statement said the international trade forum gathered around 200 representatives from local industries, including micro,small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and beneficiaries of the Rural Agro-industrial Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth Project, business associations, universities, and other government agencies from the region.

In addition, the engagement provided an “avenue” for participants to attend sessions to access information and seek guidance from key government agencies,such as the DTI’s Bureau of International Trade Relations, Export Marketing Bureau, Bureau of Import Services, Strategic Trade Management Office, the Bureau of Customs, and the Tariff Commission.

For his part, Undersecretary for International Trade Allan B. Gepty underscored the importance of making the country’s regions competitive, saying the country’s strength in international trade is “anchored on the strength of ou regions.”

“These agreements not only provide market access for goods and services but also create an attractive environment for investments and establish a stable and predictable trade framework,” Gepty said in his keynote message during the forum.

DTI said the trade education and advocacy campaign aligns with the agency’s “broader mission” to develop local industries by fostering economic growth through attracting investments and expanding exports.

For his part, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual stressed that FTAs are “tools” for Philippine exporters to integrate into global and regional markets and tap new markets for Philippine goods and services.

“These strategic alliances, complemented by persistent efforts to enhance the quality of Filipino products and services, strengthen the resilience of the Philippine economy and elevate our brands internationally,” said Pascual.

The DTI said it aims to “elevate” enterprises and entrepreneurs by promoting and supporting them to develop a “solid” domestic market base and eventually expand into the export market.

“By implementing programs to build a start-up ecosystem across developing industries, the DTI helps domestic enterprises produce diverse and sophisticated products and services that can compete in the global market,” said the agency in its statement on Thursday.

According to DTI, the TEA campaign is a series of information sessions forming part of the DTI’s plan to enhance the export capabilities of local industries. 

“The effort complements the implementation of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 and the Philippine Export Development Plan 2023-2028, which aim to develop the country as an agile export powerhouse,” DTI noted.

Another pillar of the campaign, it noted, is to establish “FTA Clinics” to build the capacity of regions to provide expertise to businesses.