Export targets reviewed over Japan’s woes

Published by rudy Date posted on April 1, 2011

THE public-private Export Development Council (EDC) is assessing the potential effect of the disasters in Japan to Philippine exports in the long-term, although officials said that the impact would likely be minimal.

Separately, the Department of Trade and Industry (DIT) on Thursday said that the review of the bilateral trade agreement between the Philippines and Japan would push through this year, with a focus on facilitating the entry of more Filipino nurses there.

In a speech during the launch of the 2011 Doing Business in Free Trade Areas sessions, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said that the EDC recently met “to map a strategy on how to assess and implement necessary intervention to sustain exports specifically electronics and semiconductors, food, motor vehicles, and construction materials.”

“The DTI is reviewing our export targets to determine if we have to adjust our goals and strategies,” he said.

Still, Cristobal said that “possible adjustments in Japan’s global supply chains delivering Japanese branded products to export markets present opportunities for the Philippines.”

“The DTI has also mobilized its commercial posts abroad to study untapped business opportunities in their respective markets that exporters can seize,” he added.

Cristobal said that “while recent crises may affect global supply chains, the impact on the Philippines is, at worst, temporary and, at best, an opportunity to increase exports if we capture migrating supply chain components into the Philippines. Moreover, there remain other niche areas and emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China that exporters can tap to balance their temporary deficits from disruptions in the global market.”

In fact, Donald Dee, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice chairman, told a press conference that the business group has met with the Chinese ambassador, who offered jobs in mainland China or in existing Chinese firms in the Philippines for Filipino workers who may be displaced from Japan.

Also, a number of Philippine food products originally intended to be exported to Japan would instead be shipped to China and alternative export markets, Dee said.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., EDC vice chairman and Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. president, said that the target of doubling total exports to about $120 billion by 2016 under the Philippine Export Development Plan 2011-2013 would stand.

“We are not planning to revise [the target] now. The effects of the incidents [disasters in Japan] are very temporary. We may get over it in a few weeks or months,” Ortiz-Luis said, but admitted that shipments in the second quarter would be affected.

He expressed confidence that the projected annual compounded 11-percent export growth in the next three years would still be achieved.

“Fact is, sad to say, it [Japan’s woes] also gives us some opportunities in the medium- and long-term when recovery and reconstruction in Japan takes place,” Ortiz-Luis added.

Relocation of Japan firms
Cristobal said that the Philippine government’s invitation for Japanese firms to relocate to the Philippines amid power supply disruptions in disaster-stricken areas there still stands.

But Cristobal noted that “Japan will need a period of time to recover from the tragedy. The business decision of Japanese companies affected by the crisis is something we cannot predict or force. Our position is we are prepared to offer that kind of assistance.”

The industry group Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI) has reported that there is a possibility that several Japan-based electronics firms may move parts of their operations here, Cristobal said, “but nothing is certain at this point.”

He added that SEIPI members have said that their
remaining raw material stocks would last for two to three more weeks, and that they were optimistic that the Japanese government could soon address the supply chain problems there.

Cristobal further said that the disasters in Japan would not impact on the scheduled review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA), which came into force in December 2008.

The government would commission PJEPA impact studies and conduct consultations with stakeholders starting this month, he said.

“There would be exchange of ideas before the meeting proper [between the Philippine and Japanese governments] in the later part of the year,” Cristobal added.

The Trade undersecretary said that the Philippines would push for the easier entry of Filipino nurses to Japan, among other matters, that shall be raised by stakeholders during the upcoming consultations. –Ben Arnold O. De Vera, Reporter, Daily Tribune

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