MANILA, December 6, 2004 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go - Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar V. Purisima is expecting the country’s exports to post a double-digit growth next year.

The trade chief is also optimistic that the country would achieve its 10 percent export target for this year.

"Traditionally the country’s export sector registers a strong finish towards the end of the year. The remaining two months would help pull the growth towards the projected target," Purisima said.

Purisima foresees a more conducive business environment for exports in 2005.

He said bilateral trade agreements, favorable laws for business, increased investments in the export sector, and an improved export plan in the next five years would further strengthen the country’s international trading position.

By next year, Purisima said, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) would be in place and the effect would be increased export activities between the two countries.

"With the lifting of trade barriers, Philippine products would have easier access to the Japanese market. It would also enable Japan to overtake the US as the country’s number one export market," Purisima said.

He added that "the EPA with Japan would be the first of the many bilateral free trade agreements that the country would enter into with other trading partner countries."

Purisima said the "bilateral and multilateral agreements are designed to increase the country’s opportunity to ship more goods to export markets."

Increased investments in Philippine industries would increase production capacity for exports, Purisima said.

The electronics and semiconductor industries which accounted for roughly 70 percent of the country’s exports recently reported $502 million in investments for the first 10 months of the year.

The investment was much better than last year which accounted for just $230 million.

"The relentless expansion of the industry augurs well for the export sector as the semiconductor and electronics firms would continue to pace the country’s export drive in the next few years," Purisima noted.

The recent SC ruling on the Mining Act has renewed investor confidence in the mineral sector and the revitalization of the industry which would result to accelerated exports, Purisima said.

There are big ticket projects in the pipeline and once these ventures become operational, the industry would become a major contributor in the export market.

This development would have a pronounced effect on the country’s jewelry sector which is on one of the priority areas of the MTPDP.

Purisima cited the current work being undertaken on the Philippine Export Development Plan 2005-2007 by the government and private sector.

The plan aims to strategically align the country’s products to high impact markets and further diversify export products based on the competitive advantage of the country.

The DTI has assigned brand managers that oversee the development of vital products and industries while its overseas commercial posts are actively looking for new business opportunities.

The export plan would put in place mechanisms for faster processing of export documentation requirements and facilitation of business between exporters and international buyers through both digital and physical infras-tructure.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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