PH signs free trade agreement with Europe
The Philippines and the four member states of the European Free Trade Association signed on Thursday a free trade agreement aimed at boosting the commercial and economic relations of the two parties.
The FTA was signed by Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. in behalf of the Philippine government, and by Johann N Schneider-Amman, President of Switzerland and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of Switzerland; Martin Eyjólfsson, Ambassador, Iceland; Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein; and Dilek Ayhan, State Secretary of Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Norway.
The signing of the FTA was said to represent an important step in further strengthening the relationship between the Philippines and EFTA. The preferential market access and the rules and disciplines governing the economic relations between the Parties under the FTA will supplement the economic cooperation and exchanges provided under the existing Joint Declaration on Cooperation, thus providing a stronger stimulus for the further development of trade and investment.
The EFTA-Philippines FTA has a comprehensive coverage, including trade in goods (industrial and agricultural goods, fish and other marine products), rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade in services, investment, competition, protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement and sustainable development. The agreement will enter into force after the completion of the internal procedures for ratification by the parties.
Merchandise trade between the EFTA States and the Philippines has increased at an average annual rate of 11 percent between 2005 and 2015. In 2015, total merchandise trade between the EFTA States and the Philippines stood at $863 million.
EFTA’s key exports to the Philippines were pharmaceuticals, clocks and watches, and machinery while EFTA’s imports mainly consisted of precious metals, electrical machinery and medical instruments.
Philippine exports to EFTA include gold, electronic parts and dental prosthesis.
With a combined population of over 13 million and a combined GDP of $1.2 trillion, the EFTA States are the world’s 9th largest merchandise trader and the 5th largest trader in commercial services, as well as significant actors in the area of foreign direct investment. The Philippines was meanwhile deemed to be one of the fastest and most resilient economies in Asia with over 100 million consumers. CDG
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