Pilipinas Conference 2021: “Philippine Trade Relations in the Pandemic Context”

Held in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, the second session of this year’s Pilipinas Conference is entitled, “Philippine Trade Relations in the Pandemic Context”, and will include a Special Discussion on Philippine and EU trade. This forum serves as a platform for top business groups to share their insights on how to strengthen the Philippines’ role in international trade, especially in the global supply chain, therefore contributing to national discussions, shaping Philippine foreign policy, and promoting cooperation for economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prolonged community quarantine and strict lockdown measures imposed by the Philippine government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to disrupt economic activities. Hence, the government must push for economic reforms and develop appropriate policies on trade and investment that are conducive to a thriving business climate. Having this kind of policy environment will lead to a domino effect where businesses will be able to help in boosting exports, generate more jobs, provide a stable source of income to the people, and eventually spur consumption.

A study conducted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) in mid-2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on European businesses in the Philippines revealed that health and safety concerns, unclear government policies, and higher operational costs are the top three factors restricting European investments in the country. Meanwhile, the most common concerns that companies face in the supply chain are regional logistics constraints, limitations and delays in meeting orders of clients, and difficulties in sourcing inputs.

This should be an opportune time to start shifting to a more investment-led economy and to focus on scaling up the Philippines’ role in the global supply chain. A global opportunity for the country is borne by strengthening its ties with partners such as the European Union (EU), which is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner, accounting for 8.4% of the country’s total trade in 2020. Meanwhile, the Philippines is the EU’s 37th largest trading partner, representing 0.3% of the EU’s total trade. Hence, this COVID-19 pandemic can be an opportunity for the Philippines to draw attention from foreign investors to further enhance its capabilities, especially in manufacturing.


Introduction and Welcoming Remarks
Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute

Keynote Address
Dr. Ana Isabel Sánchez Ruiz
Deputy Head and Head of Political, Press and Information Section, European Delegation to the Philippines

Philippine Outlook on Trade and Investments

A business-friendly policy environment should be in place in order to enable trade to flourish and to allow the entry of more investments into the country. Hence, this panel will tackle the necessary initiatives that the Philippines’ policymakers should push and act upon to boost trade and investments, which can help the economy recover faster.

Rebuilding Lives Through Employment Generation
Mr. Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr.
President, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP)

Boosting Philippine Exports for Long-Term Growth
Mr. George Barcelon
Chairperson, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT)

Putting the Philippines on the Map and the Private Sector Role
Ms. Rizalina Mantaring
Treasurer, Makati Business Club (MBC);
Board Member, Philippine Business for Education (PBEd)

Employment Generation Through Globalization
Dr. Aniceto Orbeta, Jr.
President, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)

EU Outlook on Trade and Investments

In addressing a crisis as massive as the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, it is important for stakeholders to forge partnerships and cooperate to achieve a common goal. Indeed, the Philippines should consider strengthening its ties with trade partners such as the EU. This panel will focus on the perspectives of the stakeholders from the EU on the imperative steps to achieve a shared prosperity.

Achieving Inclusive Recovery Through Economic Cooperation
Mr. Lars Wittig
President, European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP);
Country Manager, Regus & Spaces by IWG

Enhancing Trade & Investment Between Europe & ASEAN
Mr. Chris Humphrey
Executive Director, EU-ASEAN Business Council

Closing Remarks
Hon. Ramon Lopez
Secretary, Department of Trade & Industry (DTI);
Chairperson, Board of Investments (BOI)

Atty. Anthony Abad
CEO, TradeAdvisors

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