Ahead of this year’s 5th Bilateral and Consultation Mechanism (BCM) between the Philippines and Brazil, Manila is eyeing the entry of high-end Filipino products to Brasilia as part of its overall strategy to significantly improve the trade and investments as well as tourism cooperation with the country’s second-biggest trading partner in the Latin American region.
Philippine Charge d’Affaires Leilani Feliciano made this pitch during a videoconferencing among the ASEAN Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Brasilia with Brazilian Federation of Foreign Trade Chambers of Commerce (FCCE) Vice President Arno Gleisner held on June 25, 2021. Gleisner is also the organizer of the biggest foreign trade digital platform – COMEX in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Associacao Comercial Porto Alegre).
Through export diversification, the Philippines can introduce high-end products into the Brazilian market such as world-class furniture and world-famous South Sea pearls, and other manufactured goods.
Brazil continues to be the second-largest trading partner of the Philippines in the Latin American region, second only to Mexico with a total bilateral trade of US$1,068.89 billion total in 2019 and US$839.37 million in 2020.
Feliciano noted that the Philippines’ exports to Brazil amounted to US$185.26 million in 2019 and US$161.13 million in 2020.
Bilateral trade has always been in favor of Brazil with Brazilian exports to the Philippines at US$883.64 billion in 2019 and US$678.24 million in 2020.
According to Feliciano, Philippine giant company International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) has an investment in Tecon Suape, Pernambuco that reached almost $100 million to date.
With the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic slowly being resolved through mass vaccination, the Filipino diplomat hopes to reinvigorate cooperation through increased interaction between respective industries and business sectors, participation in trade missions and international trade fairs like the Manila FAME & IFEX, exchange of high-level visits of high-ranking officials and businessmen and formation of more cooperative programs in trade, tourism, and cultural pursuits with Brazil.
Just like all other countries, Feliciano said the Philippine economy has been adversely affected by the pandemic, where in the last quarter of 2020, it contracted by 8.3 percent. This was attributed to a decline in consumer spending, economic and business activity, including tourism. Prior to the pandemic, the Philippine economy grew by 6 percent in 2019.
Despite the challenges, Feliciano assured that the Philippine government remains resolute in working vigorously to regain the country’s standing as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.
She also emphasized that the Philippines considers Brazil to be a key player in global and regional affairs, and shares Brazil’s desire in deepening engagement and further strengthen bilateral economic relations and cooperation.
The two countries will convene this year their 5th Bilateral Consultation Mechanism that will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Brazil.
The event saw ASEAN Heads of Missions deliver their presentations on the trade and investment opportunities in ASEAN and in their respective countries to 150 Brazilian importers, exporters, and service providers in Rio Grande do Sul.
Philippine Honorary Consul General in Porto Alegre Dr. Somchai Ansuj joined Feliciano in representing the Philippines during the virtual event.