Business Mirror | 12 May 2014
PHL weighs impact of possible free-trade agreement with EFTA
Written by Catherine N. Pillas
The Philippines is set to undertake a study on the impact of a free-trade agreement (FTA) with a European economic bloc as the country is scheduled to sign a declaration of economic cooperation with the European Free-Trade Association (EFTA) ministers this June.
“The target date for signing the declaration for economic cooperation is on June 23 and 24, with ministers of the member- countries of EFTA during their annual meeting in Iceland. The next step is a joint feasibility study on possible Philippines-EFTA Free-Trade Agreement,” said Managing Head of the Board of Investments and Undersecretary of the Trade Bureau Adrian S. Cristobal.
The signing of the declaration will also signal the boosting of economic ties with developed countries composing the association, namely, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, Cristobal said.
The said study can be finished within the year, he added.
The joint declaration will also address cooperation on trade-related issues, such as information on foreign trade, Customs and origin matters, technical barriers to trade, intellectual-property rights, trade- in services, public procurement markets and competition, according to information from EFTA.
Based on information on the EFTA web site, the four states have a highly diversified industrial base, and EFTA-FTAs normally grant total elimination of import duties for all industrial products, with fish and other marine products treated as industrial products.
The Philippines has only one bilateral free-trade agreement, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.
Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, in an earlier interview, said that the Philippines is also eyeing to strengthen the country’s profile to the European Union, as the Philippines is in the scoping stage of a potential FTA with the 28-member country bloc.