February 21 – The UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for ASEAN, Richard Graham, met with key representatives of the private sector, composed of both Philippine and British companies, at a dinner reception co-organized by the Philippine-British Business Council, British Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, and the British Embassy in Manila.

Welcoming guests and opening the program, Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting, Chairman of the Philippine-British Business Council, shared the robust bilateral ties of these two countries: “As two great trading nations, the Philippines certainly recognises the significant role of the UK, especially for business and the economy. In 2018, total trade between our two countries amounted to almost 1.2 billion US dollars, growing 14.5% from its 2017 value.”

On his 4th visit to Manila as Trade Envoy, Richard Graham shared the aspiration of the UK in light of Brexit: a Global Britain, outward looking and open for business.

Assuring the private sector that trade relations between the UK and the Philippines would be the same, even in the transition period of the UK’s anticipated exit from the EU, Graham further explained: “Under the terms of agreement already reached, assuming we pass it, which I believe we will, we go into this transition period of about 18 months where all rules and regulations are exactly the same. Nothing changes in practice on both the tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and customs arrangements.”

Graham discussed even with Brexit, the GSP+ (which underpins over 6000 Philippine exports to the EU that enjoy zero preferential duties) will be implemented in the exact same way.

At present, two-way investment between the UK and the Philippines remain robust. Jollibee, the Filipino fast-food giant, opened its first store in London in October 2018, and is set to open more than 20 more stores across the UK; Emperador’s White and Mackay whiskey are also in high demand. Recent inbound investments from the UK include Dyson, which set up a manufacturing facility that caters to regional demand.