Philstar Global - 12 June 2023
Philippines-South Korea FTA signing feasible this year
By Catherine Talavera
The signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and South Korea is still feasible this year, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
On the sidelines of Outstanding Filipino Retailers Awards, Pascual told reporters that the FTA with South Korea may soon be signed. “I think it is feasible this year, so far, based on signals that I got in Detroit while talking to my counterpart from Korea,” he said.
Pascual was in Detroit, Michigan last month for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade (APEC MRT) meeting.
Pascual said his South Korean counterpart is expecting to receive the authority to sign the FTA in early July.
“I’m also working on my authority to sign,” Pascual said, adding that he has already requested the authority from President Marcos.
“I don’t have the final say. The President will have the final say on when he will give me the authority to sign,” he said.
In November last year, DTI Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) managing head Ceferino Rodolfo said the FTA between the two countries was ready to be signed as early as October last year.
“We were foreseeing before that the ASEAN or the APEC meetings will be a good opportunity for the secretary to sign this with the South Korean minister, to be witnessed by the leaders,” Rodolfo said earlier.
“But both sides agreed that for it to be given the prominence that it deserves, being an FTA between Philippines and Korea, it will be best to be signed either in Manila or in Seoul,” Rodolfo said.
Negotiations for the Philippines-South Korea FTA started in June 2019. In October 2021, both countries concluded the negotiations for the FTA.
Covered by the negotiations for the FTA are trade in goods, trade remedies, rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, economic and technical cooperation, competition, and legal and institutional issues.
The final negotiations focused on market access for Philippine bananas and Korean automotive units and parts.
In the negotiations, the Philippines was able to secure the elimination of tariffs for its banana exports, which was previously excluded under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Korea FTA.