By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter
THE British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) said it is optimistic about the prospects for continued growth in trade between the Philippines and the UK, after a 32% performance last year.
“We are very hopeful… obviously a lot depends on the economic conditions of both countries. But I think there are good opportunities, and we are looking at a very active year,” BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview.
Mr. Nelson said that one of the opportunities is the planned visit of the UK Trade Commissioner for Asia-Pacific, Martin Kent, next week.
“He is based in Singapore and he will be coming here next week. And there are also plans, that he outlined, (for) a roadshow to get investments to the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
“I think, there are a lot of good opportunities… (much also) depends on inflation. But we are very optimistic for 2024,” he added.
Mr. Nelson said that total trade in goods and services between the UK and the Philippines grew to 2.9 billion pounds in 2023 as of Dec. 21.
UK exports to the Philippines accounted for 1.3 billion pounds, while the UK imported 1.6 billion pounds from the Philippines. So the balance is slightly in favor for the Philippines,” he said.
Mr. Nelson added that the high level of trade is “really driven by the increasingly close ties between the two countries.”
“It also reflects that we have been working very hard to advocate and promote opportunities here and obviously we work closely with the British Embassy and the Department of Business and Trade,” he said.
Top exports of the UK to the Philippines are miscellaneous electrical goods, mechanical power generators, meat and meat preparations, pharmaceutical products and cars.
Meanwhile, the top imports of the UK from the Philippines are electrical machinery, electrical goods, intermediate electrical goods, pulp and wastewater, and general industrial machinery.
Mr. Nelson cited the growth of UK meat exports to the Philippines which he described as considerable, after coming off a small base.
“We have worked with the (UK) Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board… and that has led to a significant growth in British pork exports to the Philippines, which helps of course for food supply,” he said.
“We are coming from a relatively small base, but I think what is important to note is that it is growing very considerably and we look forward to trying to keep that by establishing longer-term relations with the key people,” he added.
Mr. Nelson said that the Philippines is the second most important market of the UK for pork in Asia, second to China.
Meanwhile, he said that the chamber is lobbying for the passage of the Anti-Agriculture Smuggling Act as it will complement the initiatives of the BCCP in helping the country address food security issues.
“And we are very hopeful because both Houses have passed their version and we are looking forward to seeing it at the bicameral and get it signed into legislation,” he added.