Manila [Philippines], February 19 (ANI): The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Thursday urged Indian companies to explore possible partnerships with Philippine firms for construction projects, reported Manila Times.
Stressing on the importance of construction and related engineering services, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez during the Business Conference on India-Philippines Infrastructure Cooperation webinar told attendees that "construction and related engineering services was our top export product in the 1970s" and that India was one of the country's strongest trade and investment partners.
"In 2020, you were the Philippines' 14th top trading partner, our 13th top export market and our 13th foremost import supplier. What's more, you were our 15th top investment partner for 2019, with the same ranking as of January to September 2020. However, there are still many economic opportunities that have yet to be fully tapped for our bilateral relations to reach their full potential," he said.
Ramon Bagatsing, the Philippine Ambassador to India too asserted that the two countries should improve their trade and investment ties and cited the need for them to sign a preferential trade agreement, reported Manila Times.
"We hope we can get moving on our discussions on the preferential trade agreement between the Philippines and India, so we can hasten further partnerships between our two countries," he told Lopez.
Explaining the mutual-interest, the Indian Ambassador, Shambhu Kumaran, said the 11-per cent economic growth that his country was projected to attain this year would offer many opportunities to Filipino firms.
"Watching the Philippines from Manila, I can also inform our Indian friends that the Philippine economy exhibited resilience. It is stabilizing and is on its way toward strong recovery," Kumaran said.
"We are also looking forward to cooperating with the Philippines in overcoming the challenges of Covid. We have been exploring the possibility of cooperating for vaccines and India will always be a strong partner in pharmaceuticals and health care in general," he added.
The Indian envoy also emphasized the need to increase awareness about the two nations' capabilities and for his country's companies to further showcase their abilities in the Philippines, and provide firms from both countries with more information on their projects.
Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), which helped organise the webinar, urged Indian companies to invest in the Philippines, especially in the government's flagship Build, Build, Build infrastructure program, reported Manila Times.
This programme, he said, "consists of around 20,000 infrastructure projects nationwide involving roads, highways, farm-to-market roads, airports, seaports, hospitals, to name a few."
The PCCI chief invited Indian business "to maximize this important opportunity to collaborate with the Philippines on priority sectors such as health infrastructure, digital technology, water resources or supply, flood control, ICT, urban development and redevelopment including disaster risk mitigation, transport and mobility, and power and energy."
Despite not being a part of the Asian mega trade deal - Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), India can benefit from its trade and investment relations with the Philippines, a signatory in the trade pact.
In November last year, the Philippines along with its 10 peers in Southeast Asia and China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia, signed the RCEP -- to facilitate free or liberalised and simplified trade among the participating nations in the Trans-Pacific Region. (ANI)