Philippines targets FTA signing with South Korea in November

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines aims to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea in November, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

“The feedback I got from the team that is working on this is that the target is in November this year,”Pascual told reporters when asked for an update on the FTA.

Negotiations for the Philippines-South Korea FTA started in June 2019. In October last year, both countries concluded the negotiations for the FTA.

Covered by the negotiations for the FTA are trade in goods, trade remedies, rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, economic and technical cooperation, competition, and legal and institutional issues.

The final negotiations focused on market access for Philippine bananas and Korean automotive units and parts.

In the negotiations, the Philippines was able to secure elimination of tariffs for its banana exports,  which was previously excluded under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Korea FTA.

In addition, there would be improved access for Philippine processed pineapples to South Korea.

Apart from South Korea, Pascual said he would push for FTA negotiations with other countries.

“That is one of my campaigns – for us to start negotiating for more FTAs, including the US,” Pascual said.

He said the country does not have an FTA with the US and the European Union (EU).

Pascual emphasized that the country has the least number of FTAs in the ASEAN region with only 10 FTAs.

This is in contrast to Singapore which signed 27 FTAs, Malaysia 17, and Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam with 15 each.

Asked about the potential of the country’s investor promotion and protection agreement (IPPA) with Israel to be elevated into an FTA, Pascual said that would have to be based on subsequent discussions, emphasizing the need to build a working relationship between the two countries.

“Everything is possible. I hope we can build up the trade between the two countries,” he said when asked about the possibility of an FTA in the long run.

The IPAA was signed in June by former Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Israel Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The agreement provides a key opportunity to tap into the industries of agro-tech, life sciences and healthcare, water technologies, high-technology and semiconductors, cybersecurity, financial technology, defense industry, smart transportation, clean technology, smart manufacturing, and the diamond industry.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/business/2022/08/05/2200294/philippines-targets-fta-signing-south-korea-november