Top trade officials of the Philippines and South Korea formally concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost trade and investment ties between the two countries.
With the conclusion of trade talks, the Philippines-Korea FTA is the country’s second bilateral trade agreement, next to the FTA with Japan.
“We are glad that our trade negotiations with South Korea have come to fruition. We also thank Minister Yeo (Han-Koo) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) for their continued collaboration in facilitating wider economic cooperation with our Philippine trade department,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the signing ceremony Tuesday.
Lopez said the final discussions focused on better market access for Philippine bananas and processed pineapples in South Korea.
He added that through the FTA, banana exports to South Korea will be duty-free in five years and zero duty in seven years for canned pineapples.
Lopez welcomed this development as these agricultural products were not initially included in the list of goods with tariff reduction, and the period of implementation was down to five and seven years from 15 years.
The DTI chief said the bilateral FTA with Seoul will complement trade deals with the East Asian country under the Asean-Korea FTA and the recently concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Manila and Seoul spent two years on the bilateral trade negotiations.
Lopez added that the country’s FTA with South Korea will also help in the economic recovery.
“This will stimulate trade and hopefully allow for more investments from Korea providing avenues for Korean companies and industries to diversify and expand their economic interests in other Asean countries, which is in line with the promotion of Korea’s New Southern Policy,” he added.
Lopez said both parties target to sign the FTA before February 2022.
Even after the conclusion of the FTA, both countries will further discuss deals on trade in services and investments “a year after the entry into force of the FTA”.