In the face of ongoing economic challenges, British entrepreneurs maintain a positive outlook for the Philippine economy, particularly in the realm of bilateral trade. Amidst the flourishing exports of pork and the keen interest in the nation’s infrastructure, confidence continues to grow within the British business community.

Image source: British Chamber of Commerce Philippines Official FB Page

Chris Nelson, Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, expressed his optimism during an interview with ANC on Monday, August 28th. Acknowledging the impact of heightened interest rates due to inflation concerns in both the Philippines and the UK, affecting GDP growth in both countries, Nelson emphasized that the “prospects still remain very good.”

Recent statistics indicate that the total trade volume between the Philippines and the UK reached an unprecedented peak of 2.6 billion pounds in 2022, evenly divided between the two trading partners. While the UK’s economic growth stood at a modest 0.7 percent, the Philippine GDP recorded a more substantial 4.3 percent for the previous quarter.

“Yes, challenges persist, but we’ve continued to experience growth. As evident by the 2.6 billion pounds milestone, we’ve managed to achieve new highs despite the hurdles posed by inflation and other factors,” noted Nelson. Undeterred by these obstacles, he added, “We recognize opportunities, particularly in infrastructure investments.” He pointed to the robust enthusiasm exhibited by UK companies toward renewable energy projects, a sentiment echoed by Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual during a recent Philippine investment roadshow in Europe.]

Image source: British Chamber of Commerce Philippines Official FB Page

“While challenges exist, our primary focus is on showcasing opportunities to UK companies and Philippine enterprises alike,” Nelson remarked. He went on to highlight the significance of the recently introduced Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), a generalized system of preferences through which the UK government grants zero-duty status to exports from partner countries, including the Philippines. Describing the DCTS as a pivotal trade catalyst for the Philippines, he stated, “This tariff scheme is poised to yield substantial benefits.”

In addition to the DCTS, the two nations aspire to eventually establish a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). Even in the absence of such an agreement, Nelson affirmed that the current collaboration between the Philippines and the UK is at an unprecedented peak and poised for further growth.

Anticipating a more vibrant trade environment, Nelson expressed confidence in the government’s forthcoming extension of Executive Order 10 for another year. This executive order provides duty-free privileges for the importation of essential agricultural staples such as rice, corn, and pork. “We are confident in endorsing the extension of EO 10, which is set to conclude by year-end,” he affirmed.

Image source: British Chamber of Commerce Philippines Official FB Page

The surge in pork exports from the UK to the Philippines, escalating by 34 percent in 2022, has played a pivotal role in taming food price inflation, according to Nelson. He further advocated for the passage of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act to safeguard domestic agricultural products and farmers. Nelson posited that once enacted into law, this legislation could also bolster traders’ interests, a matter of significance given that British pork remains among the two largest imported varieties.

During a recent Property Forum organized by the BCCP, British-owned management and consultancy firms Santos Knight Frank and JLL underscored their profound interest in the Philippine property sector, a domain contributing six percent to the nation’s overall economy. Notably, the high vacancy rate in office spaces is gradually diminishing due to the burgeoning demand for co-working office spaces. Concurrently, property consultancy firms are witnessing promising growth within the mid-range residential segment.

Image source: British Chamber of Commerce Philippines Official FB Page

As British entrepreneurs persistently exude confidence in the Philippine economy’s trajectory, the collaborative ventures between the two nations continue to gain momentum. With pork exports, renewable energy projects, and infrastructure investments fueling optimism, the prospects for an enduring and mutually beneficial trade partnership remain bright.