The Philippine and India started negotiations on the reduction of tariff on imported rice as a preliminary gesture to advance the proposed preferential trade agreement between the two countries.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the adjustment of rice tariff could set the tone on the discussions of potential collaboration and cooperation on a wider range of initiatives.
“We have been pushing for this at the committee on Tariff and Related Matters, with respect to and adjustment on tariff rates for rice coming from India, and from other countries, as our way to minimize the trade barrier for a very vital commodity in our country,” Lopez said Friday at the joint webinar organized by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce Inc. and the Indian Business Forum.
Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran acknowledged the Philippines’ initial acceptance of India’s offer to harmonize rice trade, as India is a major rice exporter while the Philippines is a leading rice importer.
“We thank the [Department of Trade and Industry] for your kind consideration of our offering an easier access to rice from India rather than round-tripping through other destinations. I believe our offer will help the Philippines in its food security efforts. But we want to go beyond that. We want to look at technology partnerships in agriculture,” Kumaran said.
He said the Indian government was deeply interested in assisting the Philippines on how to leverage space-based technologies, new startups and bring the experience of India’s extension in integrated farming practices that are both ecologically sustainable and commercially viable to the Philippines.
Kumaran said the Indian government would also like to continue the discussions on aquaculture and fisheries, among other areas of cooperation.
“And we would like to carry that conversation forward into new areas like energy, especially renewable energy, and also the digital economy in particular the national broadband project. A broader conversation as to how India’s IT services companies can contribute effectively in building partnerships to be part of the Philippine dynamic digital markets in the coming decade,” Kumaran said.
Aside from infrastructure, the DTI offered other investment opportunities in the Philippines for Indian investors, including agro-processing, automotive manufacturing, copper wire manufacturing, hospitals and healthcare services, pharmaceuticals, education services, tourism and hotel, and IT-business process management and healthcare information and management.
The Philippines also conveyed its interest to participate in India’s port modernization and new port development projects under the Sagarmala and the Bharatmala Projects, Lopez said.