World Trade Policy Review (TPR) of the Philippines

The World Trade Policy Review (TPR) of the Philippines concluded last week in Geneva, Switzerland with WTO members commending the country’s steady economic growth during the Review period even if the world economy had been dragged down by the global financial crisis.

The WTO Secretariat Report noted that the Philippine economy has performed well since its third review in 2005, based on a relatively open trade regime.

During the time of review, when many countries were hard-hit by the global financial crisis, the Philippines achieved an annual real GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of five percent, moderate inflation, and a surplus in its external account.

Measures that improved the business environment, encouraged foreign investment, streamlined customs procedures, followed international guidelines in standards and technical regulations, strengthened the banking sector, and deepened integration with ASEAN were also cited.

Trade Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. led the Philippine delegation to the WTO TPR. Colombian Ambassador Eduardo Muñoz presided over the review in his capacity as Chairperson of the WTO Trade Policy Review Body. Mr. Martin Glass, Permanent Representative of Hong Kong, China, served as discussant.

“The Philippine economy is poised for sustained and rapid inclusive growth with a trusted, credible, and committed political leadership. The substantial reforms in governance and institutions well underway will further deepen, strengthening the country’s overall competitiveness,” said Cristobal, also chair of the Philippine Committee on WTO Matters, in his Remarks.

WTO Members observed with keen interest the TPR session of the Philippines as it provided them with overall picture of measures put in place that made the country resilient against economic uncertainties.

Cristobal said the country’s reforms came at a price, imposing hard disciplines which have cushioned the economy from the adverse effects of powerful external shocks while strengthening the country’s stability.

“During the Review period, the Philippine economy maintained a steady growth amid the global economic crises, oil price shocks, and natural disasters,” he said.

Ambassador Muñoz and Mr. Glass stated that the Philippines’ full potential could be realized through further reform efforts to improve infrastructure, the business environment, and the tourism industry.

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