THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking into narrowing the trade deficit with Indonesia by exporting more agricultural commodities and car parts.

“President Rodrigo (R.) Duterte is pushing for the Philippines to narrow its trade imbalance with Indonesia. Thus we hope that openness from both countries will result in a mutually beneficial trade relationship between the two countries,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement.

Mr. Lopez discussed trade opportunities with his counterpart, Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit. They agreed to follow-up meetings in Indonesia by August or September.

In 2018, Indonesia was the Philippines’ ninth largest trading partner, with exports to the Philippines worth $6.4 billion. The Philippines’ exports to Indonesia totaled $866.2 million.

Indonesia expressed a willingness to import more shallots, bananas, and alcoholic beverages from the Philippines. Indonesian company PT Mayora Indah Tbk, a food company that makes the Kopiko brand of instant coffee, started importing desiccated coconut from the Philippines in April.

Mr. Lopez also proposed to Indonesia exports of auto parts from the Philippines for the Toyota Fortuner SUV, which is manufactured in Indonesia and is one of its top vehicle imports, as well.

The Philippines is also hoping to export the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 and Toyota Vios small cars to Indonesia when the country becomes the regional production center for these vehicles.

The two also discussed special safeguards (SSG) on coffee imports to the Philippines, as ordered by the Department of Agriculture via Department Order No. 6. It cited increased imports of Kopiko instant coffee, affecting domestic coffee manufacturers. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang