By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter
THE United Kingdom (UK) said it is working to develop a government-to-government scheme that will simplify major procurement exercises with the Philippines.
“We are in the process of working with the government to develop a memorandum of understanding to facilitate government-to-government agreements on trade. That is a conversation that’s happening right now,” Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils said on Thursday.
The ambassador said the talks are in their early stages, with no specific timetable set.
She added that such a scheme will “simplify government-to-government trade and simplify government-to-government arrangements for big procurements.”
Government-to-government procurement deals will function in parallel with the UK’s Developing Countries Trading Scheme, which allows the tariff-free entry of 99% of Philippine exports to the UK.
She also said that a Joint Economic and Trade Committee with the Philippines is also under discussion.
According to Ms. Beaufils, UK-Philippine trade rose 32% in the year to March to 2.9 billion pounds.
The Philippines is the 59th largest trading partner of the UK.
Chris Nelson, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, added that British meat exports to the Philippines could recover next year.
“I think this year will be lower than last year, but I think what we’re looking for is to continue the relationships which we’ve established here with the key meat importers. Therefore, I think it’s more important that we will likely see a recovery,” Mr. Nelson said.
However, he said that the extension of lowered tariffs for meat and the passage of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act will be key to an export rebound next year.
“We should be realistic. It will not happen probably in the initial part of the year but further on,” he said.
“I’m optimistic that in 2024 we will see a strong rebound, but probably more towards the latter half of the year because obviously they’ve got to gear up for that,” he added.
The UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board estimates that UK pork exports to the Philippines declined 67.5% as of Nov. 11, while beef exports declined 57.1%.