Philippines, South Korea begin free trade deal talks

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and South Korea, formally the Republic of Korea (ROK), officially launched the start of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA).

In a statement on Monday, June 3, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it expects stronger bilateral relations with South Korea now that the FTA is finally being pursued. The DTI earlier said it expects to conclude talks by November.

"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," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

"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 DTI expects an FTA to spur more investments and job opportunities, as well as improve collaboration in research and development.

As of March, South Korea is the Philippines' top 5th trading partner with overall trade of $993.02 million.

On the sidelines

Aside from FTA negotiations, both countries also conducted their first meeting for the PH-ROK Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC).

"The JCTEC is equally important as it will tackle a broader perspective of economic cooperation between the two countries," Lopez said.

The DTI will also be conducting a roundtable meeting with South Korean business executives from a number of industries to discuss opportunities in locating and expanding their operations in the Philippines. – Rappler.com