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Philippines, UAE set next round of free trade deal discussions for July

Inquirer Net - 13 May 2024

Philippines, UAE set next round of free trade deal discussions for July
By: Alden M. Monzon

Government negotiators from the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have set the next round of negotiations for the planned free trade agreement between the two countries for July.

Trade undersecretary Allan B. Gepty, who is leading the Philippine side in the negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the UAE, on Saturday gave this timeline following the conclusion of the initial round of talks in Dubai last week.

“I can say we have (made) positive progress, and we are determined to conclude the negotiations this year,” Gepty said in a message sent to the Inquirer.

The Philippine official said the next round would be held in Manila in the first week of July.

Back in December, Gepty said the Philippines was targeting to enhance its market access for export halal-related products under the CEPA.

ROther goods that the Philippines is hoping for better market access include its exports of tropical fruits, and garments, as well as high-end, finished consumer goods such as luxury watches, belts, and other leather products.

Opening trade opportunities
Gepty had also told the Inquirer earlier this month that an FTA with the UAE will open up trade opportunities to an estimated market of 10.06 million people, as well as to the second-largest Filipino population in the Middle East.

Two-way trade between the two countries totaled $1.85 billion in 2022, with Philippine exports reaching $315.21 million while imports amounted to $1.53 billion, according to records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The Philippines is also hoping for better access for its service exports, with Gepty noting the prospects in the fields of engineering, and healthcare, as well as legal and tax-related services.

“Professional services (are) a key interest of the Philippines. We want to create more opportunities for our people,” Gepty told the Inquirer earlier this month.

On the investment side of the planned FTA, the trade official said the Philippines wants to entice more investments from the UAE in transportation, logistics, innovation, and smart agriculture.

 source: Inquirer Net