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DTI sees SME opportunities in ASEAN-India free trade deal

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Photo: ASEAN Secretariat

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) upcoming free trade agreement with India will expand opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“The ASEAN-India collaborations have started to prosper. They are going in the right direction but definitely there’s still a big room for improvement,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement on Wednesday.

“A strengthened partnership between ASEAN and India can give SMEs a larger free trade area to work with as we make them part of the global value chain,” he added.

Mr. Lopez cited noted potential areas that both the Philippines and India can explore, including information and communication technology; telecommunications; automotive parts and components; pharmaceuticals; and public-private-partnerships in infrastructure development, including energy and power.

He also noted the Philippines’ intention to explore potential markets for high-innovation and design-driven products, electronics and semi-conductors, hospitality, and education.

Among the potential trade and investment opportunities between ASEAN and India include sectors like pharmaceuticals, automotive, manufacturing, textile, and business process outsourcing, among others.




“The opportunities are numerous between the Philippines and India, especially with both countries experiencing robust economic growth. There’s good ground for industry complementation,” Mr. Lopez said as he addressed over 400 corporate and government leaders from ASEAN states, India and other countries present at the 3rd ASEAN-India Business Conference held Nov. 27 in Malaysia. “The Philippines is seeking to capitalize on the Indian government’s Act East policy, which focuses on strengthening trade and investment relations with its East Asian neighbors. We are also in a unique and strategic location as an entry point for Indian businesses to enter the Philippines and ASEAN market,” Mr. Lopez added.

In 2017, merchandise exports of the ASEAN bloc to India were worth $45 billion which accounted for 62% of bilateral merchandise trade.

The Philippines counts India as its 14th top trading partner, with India the 18th largest Philippine export market and 14th largest source of imports in 2017. Merchandise trade between the two countries amounted to $2.2 billion. — Janina C. Lim