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Signing of PH-S.Korea FTA in Cambodia hits snag

Manila Bulletin - 7 November 2022

Signing of PH-S.Korea FTA in Cambodia hits snag
By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Signing of the Philippines-South Korea free trade area (PH-ROK FTA) will have to wait until early next yet instead of this month, as both parties are still reviewing text and provisions of the trade deal.

“We hope to sign it (PH-ROK FTA) early next year,” said Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty.

While both parties have already concluded FTA negotiations, Gepty said, they are still reviewing the text/provisions of the deal. Based on their respective internal processes, he said, the trade treaty can be signed early next year yet.

Singing of the bilateral FTA has been delayed for quite sometime already, blamed largely to market issues for goods, particularly on the exports of Philippine bananas and pineapples to South Korea. The Philippines fruits are being levied a 30-percent tariff, putting them a disadvantaged against competing exports from Vietnam which tariff rate will eventually reduced to zero.

The trade deal was expected to be signed at the 40TH AND 41ST ASEAN Summits and Related Summits on Nov. 11-13 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The PH-ROK FTA Negotiations was launched in June 2019 in Seoul by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and MOTIE Minister for Trade Yoo Myung-hee.

The proposed bilateral FTA recognizes the potential of both countries to advance economic relations by enhancing trade and investment flow between them through, removal of impediments to closer trade and creation of business and investment opportunities. Both sides had the common goal to achieve a comprehensive and future-oriented FTA.

In negotiating the FTA, the Philippines hopes to secure improved market access for agricultural products such as bananas and other tropical fruits, as well as industrial products and other services.

The FTA, once enforced, will be an important vehicle for improving the balance of trade with South Korea through enhanced trade flows, facilitating the movement of natural persons, and generating more investment opportunities and by extension, job generation possibilities.

Both parties signed the Early Achievement Package of the PH-KR FTA Negotiations in November 2019, which locked in a number of products that have already been offered by both sides at the time.

 source: Manila Bulletin