PH eyes completion of free trade deal with 4 European states by August 2017 | Inquirer Business

PH eyes completion of free trade deal with 4 European states by August 2017

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 12:10 AM November 21, 2016

The Philippines is set to complete by August next year the ratification of its free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (Efta), a move seen to further solidify the government’s three-pillar strategy for Europe.

“We’re now working on the ratification of our FTA with the four member countries of the Efta. It’s currently at the Department of Foreign Affairs, after which it will be sent to the Office of the President for ratification. And lastly, that will go to the Senate. Our deadline for completion will be in August next year,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez disclosed.


“Despite our pivot towardsAsia, we would want to, at the same time, maintain and strengthen our relationship with Europe through this (three-pillar strategy),” Lopez added.

Biggest market

The three-pillar strategy referred to the country’s move toward widening and strengthening its access to Europe, one of the country’s biggest markets to date. This included the FTA with the four member economies of Efta, namely, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway; the FTA with the European Union, negotiations of which are ongoing, and the country’s inclusion in the EU’s generalized scheme of preferences (GSP), which allowed more than 6,200 products manufactured in the Philippines to be exported at zero duties to the 28-member bloc.


The Philippines signed in April this year an agreement with Efta, the country’s second bilateral agreement after the Philippine Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. The FTA will only enter into force after the completion of internal procedures for ratification by both parties.

Last month, a committee from the Efta visited Manila, with the ratification process high on its agenda. The delegation was headed by Svein Roald Hansen, a member of Norwegian Parliament.

“With the agreement now signed, our meeting can hopefully contribute to its swift ratification, in which our respective parliaments play an important role,” Hansen said in an earlier statement.


He added that an FTA with the Philippines, “one of the most dynamic economies in the East Asia region,” was an important part of Efta’s outlook to new and fast-growing markets.

Over the last years, trade in goods between the Efta states and the Philippines remained stable and was worth almost $850 million in 2015.

Under the FTA, the Efta states are expected to abolish all customs duties on industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating from the Philippines. Similarly, the Philippines would gradually eliminate customs duties on industrial products, including fish and other marine products originating from an Efta state over a 10-year period. Other products covered by the tariff reduction include certain types of mineral or chemical fertilizers, handmade paper and paperboard, apparel and clothing accessories and certain lines covering motor vehicle parts and accessories.

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TAGS: Business, European Free Trade Association, Philippine news updates, Trade
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