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PIA Press Release

NEDA official optimistic on CAFTA effects

By Mai Gevera

Davao City (6 February) -- With the full establishment of the China -ASEAN Free Trade Area last January 1 this year, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) XI sees a symbiotic relationship between China and the Philippines.

"China is a potential market of the Philippines which we can take advantage of to boost our economy," said NEDA regional director Maria Lourdes Lim in yesterday's Kapihan sa PIA.

Data showed that trade between the two countries recorded a rapid growth of more than $30 billion in 2007.

Philippines is optimistic for a comparative edge in the areas of electronics, agricultural produce, fishery products and minerals. The government has high hopes of spurring development on these areas by attracting more investments offered by China.

Other areas that Philippines have an advantage over China are the areas of tourism, English-teaching, eco-medical and retirement care services. China, on its part, is expected to benefit the Philippines through its infrastructure investments.

One reason for the full establishment of the said agreement is the belief that it could spur two-way investment flow between China and Philippines.

However, some Filipinos were still cautious that said agreement could only surface imbalance favorable to the Chinese market.

"We can't stop some people from thinking that this policy would only flood our country with China goods and affect our local producers and industries. But the government has established mechanisms to guard this agreement," said Lim.

She stressed that there is already a policy framework prepared for the full establishment of CAFTA. With this policy, the government is further challenged to translate these policies for implementation.

Lim urged concerned government agencies like the Bureau of Customs to polish its customs processes and for the national government to constantly review its tariff polices to ensure proper regulation.

She also mentioned the big role of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in ensuring that local production is further improved and that it could find its place in the export market.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is set to benefit from the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund totaling to $10 billion to be made available for project orientation. (PIA XI) [top]

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