PH, Efta to start free trade talks
The Philippines and the four member states of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) are set to start negotiations for a free trade agreement, following the successful conclusion of the so-called “scoping exercises” between the two parties on Monday.
Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said this was relayed to him by Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., who is currently in Europe to firm up the country’s strategy to boost bilateral ties with European states.
“Negotiations with the Efta will be held in the first quarter of next year. We only have one bilateral FTA and that is with Japan. To have another one with Efta will allow us to broaden our economic partnerships with other countries,” Domingo said.
Domingo admitted that the Efta—composed of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein—may be a small market but the benefits for the Philippines to have an FTA with this bloc will be highly significant. These countries are deemed to be strategic trading and investment partners for the Philippines given their extensive networks of preferential trade relations worldwide.
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