Philippine Daily Inquirer
PIDS tapped to do impact study on free trade agreements
By Abigail L. Ho, Philippine Daily Inquirer
7 July 2011
The Department of Trade and Industry has tapped the Philippine Institute for Development Studies to evaluate how the country has benefited so far from the various trade agreements entered into by the government, both bilateral and through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said there was no available data showing the percentage of FTA utilization by local companies. This prompted the partnership with PIDS.
“We’re doing (FTA impact studies) now. We’ve set aside funds for that and we’ve partnered with PIDS to do that,” Cristobal said in an interview.
In an earlier interview, he said the DTI aimed to double local businesses’ utilization of the country’s six effective FTAs by 2016, mainly through the conduct of more information and education sessions on how to use these trade pacts.
Initially, the government would be using the results of an Asian Development Bank survey, which placed the country’s utilization rate of FTAs at just somewhere above 20 percent.
By 2016, he said FTA use should already reach more than 40 percent.
According to an ADB multicountry survey on FTA utilization, more than 70 percent of those polled cited lack of information as the biggest deterrent to FTA use.
The DTI sought to spread more awareness about FTAs via its “Doing Business in Free Trade Areas’’ program, an information and education campaign designed to encourage businesses to take advantage of the country’s trade deals.
This year, 44 such sessions were scheduled to take place, 28 of which would deal with the basics, as with last year, and the remaining 16 to focus on sectoral discussions, he said.
To gauge the impact of these sessions on FTA use, he said a monitoring system would be put in place.
The country has trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, China and Korea via the Asean, as well as with Japan via the bilateral Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.