BACOLOD CITY?Taiwan?s Envoy to the Philippines, Donald C.T. Lee, said the Philippines should seriously consider signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan to boost investments in the country.
In a speech during a luncheon hosted by Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. at the Provincial Capitol here, Lee cited the need for a trade agreement to protect overseas Filipinos working in Taiwan.
?If the Philippines does not take swift action, Taiwan locators that should have settled in the Philippines would turn to mainland China due to ECFA?s (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) magnetized effect,? said Lee, who represents the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines.
Taiwan, recently signed an ECFA with mainland China, which was expected to further normalize cross-strait trade relations between the two economies.
If the Philippines will not sign an FTA with Taiwan, many OFWs may soon be out of jobs since Taiwanese factories may opt to move to mainland China after the implementation of the ECFA, the envoy explained.
On the other hand, the Philippines will benefit from an FTA with Taiwan.
?We foresee great strides in the cooperation in agriculture, labor and investment, with more Filipino workers coming to Taiwan, and more Taiwanese investments flowing to the Philippines as well,? Lee said.
There are about 100,000 registered OFWs in Taiwan who each earn around P25,000 a month and remit $600 million to the Philippines each year, he said.
?Taiwan provides OFWs equal rights and the same treatment as local Taiwanese employees,? Lee added.
Bilateral trade between the Philippines and Taiwan amounted to more than $6 billion in 2009, making Taiwan the country?s 6th most important trading partner.
As of June 2010, Taiwan?s investments in the Philippines stood at $2.2 billion, making it the seventh largest foreign investor in the country, Lee said.