UK seeks increased trade with PH after pandemic restrictions eased

The United Kingdom plans to further enhance trade with the Philippines after bilateral trade was set back by the pandemic, with about 200 companies keen to invest in the Philippines and the UK government planning to increase financial commitments on green infrastructure.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils issued this statement in a recent online interview with CNN Philippines regarding how the UK is helping the Philippines recover from the pandemic through increased bilateral trade and investment.

Beaufils said that following the recent high-level trade dialogue between the two countries, the European nation is committed to further strengthening trade.

The two countries convened the 3rd Philippines-United Kingdom Economic Dialogue on February 9, 2022, led by Beaufils and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo.

Beaufils in the online interview said that annual UK-Philippine trade stood at around GBP2 billion (P137 billion) before it took a hit because of pandemic-related restrictions.
“But we’re back in force and we will be looking at key sectors that are of joint interest,” she assured.

These sectors include technology, health, education, digital services, green infrastructure, and renewable energy, she added.

“In all of those areas, we’ve got companies that are determined to come and invest. We’ve already got about 200 companies investing in the Philippines across all of these sectors,” said the envoy.

Beaufils said that there have been concrete commitments and increased interest from the UK over the last few weeks, with British trade officials holding meetings with local chambers of commerce and further exploring opportunities for businesses, “so I am really confident that we will go from strength to strength in terms of our trade and our bilateral investment.”

Moreover, she assured further financial commitments from the UK government for green sustainable infrastructure in the Philippines.

To enhance adaptation, she said the UK is supporting the development of a national adaptation plan because “sadly, the Philippines is very vulnerable to the unavoidable consequences of climate change so it needs to plan in a way that enables it to be more resilient to those impacts,” she said.

This support will come by way of, for example, developing agricultural products that can resist the increase in temperature and building typhoon-resistant infrastructure.

On the mitigation aspect, Beaufils said support will be through building a long-term strategy for development. This will involve looking at how all key sectors, such as agriculture, transport, health, and energy, come together and developing a strategy that “seeks to balance long-term economic and social development and low-carbon development as well.”

She also said the UK has recently provided GBP110 million to the Asian Development Bank to support green infrastructure development in the region.

“We’ll have new tools and a new development finance institute that will be providing equity in companies working around issues like sustainable infrastructure,” Beaufils said.

According to a DTI release last month, the Philippine-UK economic dialogue emphasized the shared commitment of both countries to build back better from the pandemic and pursue mutual prosperity in key areas, including economic reform, green infrastructure, human development, and digital economy.

The dialogue likewise sought to deepen cooperation in priority sectors such as manufacturing and innovation.

Both sides also agreed to continue coordination on trade policy, regional trade interests, and multilateral engagement, while at the same time holding regular dialogue on market access issues and investment opportunities.

The DTI said the UK committed to deepen economic development ties with the Philippines and explore regional opportunities after it was designated as ASEAN dialogue partner and the Philippines as ASEAN economic coordinator for the UK. 

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