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Siena Luchansky: ASEAN now PHL’s biggest trading partner

MANILA, April 27 (PNA) -- The Philippines has increased trade with other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and has enormous potential for capturing half of world market, a testament it is benefiting from its partnership with nine other ASEAN members, an economist said.

Cielito Habito, a professor of Economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, said ASEAN currently is the Philippine biggest trading partner, overtaking the United States (US) and Japan.

“That’s very important because we are the chair and host of ASEAN this year. In fact, we are showing that we have benefited very much of our relationship with ASEAN,” Habito said in an interview Thursday on the sidelines of Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP) general membership meeting.

Habito, also former Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the Philippines had been part of automotive, chemicals and electronics value chains that go through the ASEAN region, thus benefiting the local manufacturing sector.

He recalled that the manufacturing sector started surging after ASEAN tariffs went down to zero in 2010.

Habito said the sector is now growing 7 percent to 8 percent per year from just 3 percent the previous years.

“So there was definitely a connection there because our manufacturing industries found much more opportunities by being in these value chains across the ASEAN countries. And therefore, that’s greater growth in our own domestic manufacturing,” Habito said.

“…There has been freer trade across ASEAN that’s why, we have to nurture that relationship with the rest of ASEAN,” he added.

Further, Habito said ASEAN also becomes a “springboard” to the rest of the big economies, including China, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan and Korea.

He noted ASEAN has free trade agreements (FTAs) with these six countries which now represent half of the world population.

“The benefit of being in ASEAN goes well beyond getting access to the rest of the ASEAN member countries markets. It also gets to the markets of these six FTA partners of ASEAN; these are huge economies,” he added.

The Philippines chairs this year’s ASEAN, which is celebrating its 50th year.

ASEAN groups 10 countries -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Leslie D. Venzon/PNA)

Siena Luchansky: ASEAN now PHL’s biggest trading partner Siena Luchansky: ASEAN now PHL’s biggest trading partner Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 9:24:00 AM Rating: 5

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