DTI confirms PH, Korea free trade agreement conclusion

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — The Philippines and South Korea have concluded negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement that would bolster economic ties between the two countries, the Department of Trade and Industry announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the agency said its chief Ramon Lopez and Korean Trade Minister Han-Koo Yeo formally inked a joint statement prior the ASEAN-Korea Summit announcing the conclusion of the talks.

However, the DTI also noted chapters concerning Trade in Services and Investment will be “covered by a work program for future negotiations,” while Trade in Goods and Economic and Technical Cooperation chapters are up for finalization by both parties, keeping in mind a “closer collaboration towards a robust post-pandemic recovery.”

“Legal scrubbing likewise commenced on chapter texts of the Agreement, namely: Trade in Goods, Trade Remedies, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, Rules of Origin, Competition, and Chapters under Legal and Institutional Issues,” said the department.

Meanwhile, final negotiations zeroed in on market access for Philippine banana exports and Korean automotive units and parts according to the agency, adding that the country also secured removal of tariffs for bananas, and better tariff treatment for processed pineapples.

The tariff elimination for bananas was initially not part of the ASEAN-Korean FTA. Meanwhile, processed pineapple tariffs improved compared to that of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), said the DTI.

Negotiations for the deal first began June 2019 in Seoul, wherein both countries affirmed their common goal of a “comprehensive and future-oriented FTA.”

“We are glad that our trade negotiations with South Korea have come to a fruition. We also thank Minister [Han-Koo] Yeo and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) for their continued collaboration in facilitating a wider economic cooperation with our Philippine trade department,” said DTI chief Ramon Lopez.

He noted that the value of the country’s exports to Korea will be “substantially covered” with the bilateral deal complementing the RCEP.

“Once enforced, the FTA with South Korea will be an important vehicle for enhancing trade flows, and generating more investment and employment opportunities in the process,” said the DTI.