The umbrella group of information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) firms in the country is aiming to grow and tap new markets in Europe as the Philippines and European Union (EU) resume negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA).

Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) president and CEO Jack Madrid told reporters there is room to grow the market in Europe being served by the group's members.

'It's growing, but I would like it to be bigger. We're still dominated by North America,' he said.

As IBPAP is looking to grow in Europe, the group sees the recent announcement made by Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and European Commission executive vice president and trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis on the resumption of FTA negotiations between the Philippines and the EU as a positive development.

Pascual said formal talks are expected to resume in the early part of the second half of the year.

Talks for the Philippines-EU FTA have been put on hold after the last round in 2017.

The FTA is expected to take the Philippines and EU's relationship to a higher level by going beyond the benefits of the trade preference scheme Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus, through enhanced market access for goods, services and investments.

To grow the market being served in Europe, Madrid said there is a need to step up promotion efforts.

'We need to promote the country a little bit more in Europe so that they are aware of the special talent of the Filipino workforce,' he said.

As part of efforts to promote the country's IT-BPM industry, Madrid joined the recent trip of President Marcos to Germany and Czech Republic.

'There are a number of German companies that have been doing good business here for many, many years. But Czech is something we want to eventually capture. It's a country with a low population,' Madrid said.

During the visit, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the IBPAP and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic covering cooperation for trade and investment promotion between both countries in areas of commercial and industrial relations in IT-BPM.

The collaboration involves an exchange of best practices on influencing government policies and talent development, as well as encouraging responsible use of artificial intelligence.


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