THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said two trade deals are expected to strengthen the Philippines-Japan economic relationship.

The DTI said in a statement on Wednesday that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) are already producing agreements to deepen ties between the two countries.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual and the Japanese Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura agreed to explore investment in energy, critical minerals, carbon neutrality, innovation, and digital trade under RCEP, which the Philippines recently joined.

“These strong economic relations can be further strengthened by the IPEF which is currently under negotiations,” the DTI said.

According to the DTI, Japan was the Philippines’ No. 2 trading partner in 2022, with the Philippines serving as a crucial market for Japanese exports.

The ASEAN-Japan Business Week 2023 resulted in investment agreements with Japanese companies like ITOCHU Corp., Nidec Drive Technology Corp., and Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. 

ITOCHU subsidiary DOLE Philippines, plans to increase pineapple production volume to 1 million metric tons by 2025.

Meanwhile, Nidec will expand the production capacity of its nearly four-hectare plant in Subic to close to 300,000 pieces at peak operations, equivalent to P5.1 billion in export receipts for the Philippines.

Murata, which operates in the Philippines as Philippine Manufacturing Co. of Murata, Inc., will be expanding its multilayer ceramic capacitor business in response to growing demand in the automotive industry.

According to the DTI, the Murata unit has invested P33 billion in its manufacturing facility, which employs 3,300 workers. The company has generated export sales of $1.27 billion since 2012. 

“With their long and established presence in the Philippines, sogo shoshas, or trading companies, have played a large role in the development of the country’s economy,” the DTI said.

“Japan’s sogo shoshas are beginning to branch out in the Philippines from the traditional space of trade and investment to integrated financing, logistics and commercial distribution, digitalization, green energy, environment, food security and all-around pioneering technologies,” it added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile