The Philippines and South Korea have officially launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) to promote stronger bilateral relations.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and South Korea’s Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy Yoo Myung-hee headed the launch of negotiations on the PH-ROK Free Trade Agreement on June 3, 2019.
At the event, both countries recognized the potential to advance economic relations “by enhancing trade and investment flow between them through removal of impediments to closer trade and creation of business and investment opportunities.”
Both ministers committed to conclude the negotiation of a “comprehensive and future-oriented FTA” by November 2019.
“For the Philippines, the FTA means we can achieve improved market access for our agriculture products such as banana, pineapple, and mangoes, as well as industrial products and other services,” Lopez said in a statement. “We are working on better reciprocity of tariff rates and market access of our agricultural and industrial products to improve the balance of trade with South Korea.”
The trade chief said they will also be working on the movement of natural persons and more investment opportunities that could lead to job generation, as well as greater collaboration in innovation, and research and development “that will support the implementation of our inclusive innovation and industrial strategy.”
Yoo, for his part, said the FTA is a significant step toward a stronger economic partnership between the two countries. He also noted that the Philippines is an important trade and investment partner for South Korea.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the FTA will create favorable conditions for exporters, investors, industries, workforce, as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises of both countries.
On the sidelines of the launch, the first meeting of the PH-ROK Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC) also took place. The Philippines was represented by DTI undersecretary and Board of Investments managing head Ceferino Rodolfo.
“The JCTEC is equally important as it will tackle a broader perspective of economic cooperation between the two countries,” Lopez said.
Meanwhile, Lopez is will conduct a roundtable meeting with high-level South Korean business executives from various industries such as construction and infrastructure, tool and die as well as energy to discuss opportunities in locating and expanding Korean business operations in the Philippines.