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S. Korea, Philippines sign free trade deal

Yonhap News Agency - 07 September 2023

S. Korea, Philippines sign free trade deal
By Oh Seok-min

South Korea and the Philippines signed a free trade pact Thursday in a move expected to bolster bilateral economic and industry ties, Seoul’s industry ministry said.

The two nations concluded the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in June 2021 after two years of negotiations, and they wrapped up necessary follow-up procedures, such as legal scrubbing, in July 2023, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

"The agreement is expected to serve as a foundation for future-oriented cooperation with the key Southeast Asian country on such various fields as autos, natural resources, health care, culture and e-commerce," the ministry said in a release.

Under the deal, South Korea will remove tariffs on 94.8 percent of all items and the Philippines will lift tariffs on 96.5 percent of all products traded, according to the ministry.

The pact is expected to come into force in the first half of next year, it added.

South Korea’s Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun and his Philippine counterpart, Alfredo Espinosa Pascual, held the signing ceremony in Jakarta on Thursday, which was also attended by President Yoon Suk Yeol and the Filipino President Ferdinand Bongbong Romualdez Marcos Jr.

Yoon is in Jakarta to attend an East Asia Summit.

It is South Korea’s fifth bilateral free trade deal with an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member country, after Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia.

South Korea has an FTA with ASEAN but has also sought separate deals with respective member nations in an effort to deepen diplomatic and economic cooperation with the emerging nations.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

 source: Yonhap News Agency