Taiwan and the Philippines signed four memorandums of understanding (MOU) at the conclusion of the 16th ministerial-level economic cooperation meeting between the two countries aimed at bolstering bilateral cooperation, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
The MOUs were forged on cooperation in the fields of standardization and conformity assessment, cooperation on small and medium-sized enterprises, cross-border information technology exchanges and cooperation in the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
During the two-day meeting, the Philippines agreed to give priority consideration to lowering import tariffs on polyester fiber from Taiwan. There is no polyester fiber processing industry in the Philippines, MOEA officials said.
The Philippines agreed to simplify customs procedures for imports of Taiwanese goods at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which houses several Taiwanese companies, and at the Clark Freeport Zone north of Manila, the officials said.
It was announced during the meeting that Spirit of Manila Airlines would offer direct flight services between the Clark Freeport Zone and Taipei starting on March 15.
It was also announced during the meeting that ATA carnet systems, an internationally accepted customs document, would be activated on June 15 between Taiwan and the Philippines to facilitate temporary imports to each other’s country. The ATA carnet operations will be implemented only for cooperation in the intellectual property area, MOEA officials said.
The Philippines is Taiwan’s 14th largest trade partner, while Taiwan is the eighth largest trade partner of the Philippines. Bilateral trade totaled US$7.03 billion last year.
Tallies compiled by the MOEA’s Investment Commission showed a combined US$1.17 billion in Philippine investment projects in Taiwan as of last December, while Taiwanese investment in the Philippines amounted to 974 cases, worth a combined US$1.84 billion as of last June.
About 75,000 Filipinos are currently working in Taiwan, mostly as laborers or household helpers.