The Philippines and South Korea have agreed to pursue a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) to further enhance economic ties and expand trade between the two countries.
In a meeting held in Manila on April 17, Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and South Korean Trade minister Yoo Myung-hee declared their readiness to start negotiations once their respective domestic procedures are completed, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a statement.
Once concluded, the bilateral FTA will pave the way for an enhanced market access for products of interest from the two countries. The agreement is also seen to provide a more stable and predictable economic environment necessary to generate more trade and investments.
Merchandise trade between the Philippines and South Korea reached US$13.7 billion in 2018, making the latter the fifth largest trading partner of the Philippines. The Philippines’ top exports to South Korea include bananas, pineapples, and copper. Philippine top imports from South Korea, on the other hand, are mainly industrial products. Investments in the Philippines from South Korea in 2019 totaled $35.79 million, primarily in real estate activities and manufacturing.
DTI noted that the Philippines and South Korea have shared longstanding ties and mutual trust and support since the Korean War. The two countries will celebrate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in November 2019, with plans to announce the conclusion of the FTA negotiations.