Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala arrives at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Sunday. — PNA-MALACANANG

THE PHILIPPINE Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) expects more investments from Czech Republic-based companies in various sectors such as defense and transportation.

PCCI President George T. Barcelon said it is important the Philippines pursue new opportunities for trade and investment with the Czech Republic.

“To expand two-way trade, we can explore various sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, construction, mining, and renewable energy. We want them to come and invest (in the Philippines),” he said during the Czech Industry Forum in Makati City on Monday.   

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala attended the forum, as part of his three-day official visit to the Philippines. He was accompanied by a delegation of Czech businessmen.

Bilateral trade between the Philippines and the Czech Republic reached about $700 million in 2021, with Philippine exports worth about $500 million and imports from the Czech Republic totaling about $200 million.   

“The majority of these exports consist of world-standard Philippine machines, including integrated circuits, electrical equipment, transformers, among other products under the European Union’s (EU) Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+),” Mr. Barcelon said.   

The Philippines is seeking to renew its participation in the EU’s GSP+, which allows the Philippines to enjoy zero tariffs on 6,274 products or 66% of all EU tariff lines. The Philippines has been threatened with the loss of GSP+ status, with the European Parliament in February approving a resolution asking the previous government to address human rights violations.

Mr. Barcelon said Czech investors could also invest in mass transportation in areas outside Metro Manila such as Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Cebu.   

“Why concentrate on the National Capital Region? I have been telling them to concentrate on the regional. The regional areas already have the budget. They can decide faster,” he said.   

The PCCI chief noted the country’s top imports from the Czech Republic are from the arms and defense sector. He said the production of Colt firearms, which is a subsidiary of Czech company Colt CZ Group SE, could be done in the Philippines.   

“Colt could invest in a factory in the country. We have the skill. We can produce firearms. Armscor (Arms Corp. of the Philippines) is exporting. We have already people in these sectors. They can take a look at that,” Mr. Barcelon said.   

Companies from the Czech Republic could also invest in agriculture, he added.

“For the agriculture sector, it can be the mechanization. Definitely, if we can get the technical know-how will add knowledge to us. That would help,” Mr. Barcelon said.   

Vladimir Dlouhy, Czech Chamber of Commerce president, said that the Czech Republic is an important producer in the global defense industry.

“There are a couple of interesting niches, spaces on the market where we can offer our products. I believe that our products are competitive. Defense is an important part but it is not only defense. It is also in construction, logistics, finance, export insurance, and digital economy like cryptocurrency,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PCCI and the Czech Chamber of Commerce signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen bilateral trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.    

“The MoU includes provisions for exchange of market information, promotion of investments, and the establishment of joint business councils. At the PCCI, we are ready to link the Czech and Philippine business communities to create mutually rewarding opportunities,” Mr. Barcelon said. — R.M.D.Ochave