PH, 4 European states to sign free trade deal
The Philippines is expected to sign this week a free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association, the first bilateral agreement under the Aquino administration.
EFTA is a free trade area consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
“We’ll get the notice of signing if not Monday [April 25], it should be [within this week]. There’s no need for the president to sign this. I will sign in behalf of our president,” Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal. Jr. said at the sidelines of Manila Fame Trade Exhibition 2016.
Cristobal is set to go to Bern, Switzerland this week to sign the free trade agreement with representatives of four EFTA states.
He said the agreement was very important for the Philippines and would be more comprehensive than the country’s first FTA with Japan.
“The significance of FTA with EFTA is its comprehensiveness. It’s not the number of chapters but the fact that it’s a comprehensive FTA for the Philippines, that’s significant,” he said.
Cristobal said the Philippines was expected to feel the impact of the trade deal within a year or two. “That’s why our strategy is to ramp up the negotiations,” he said.
Cristobal said he would be accompanied by at least four Filipino businessmen, representing the tuna and electronics sectors.
The government is currently developing a work program to encourage and promote utilization of the free trade agreement and enable Philippine industries to benefit from the opportunities and potential of the Philippines-EFTA agreement.
The Philippines is targeting a more permanent and long-term relationship through a bilateral trade agreement with EFTA.
Establishing a strong foothold in the European market is a key component of the country’s trade strategy, according to the Trade Department.
Top Philippine exports to the EFTA member states include gold in semi-manufactured forms, digital monolithic integrated circuits, aircraft parts, printed circuits, artificial teeth and silver while top imports from EFTA include medicaments, diagnostic or laboratory reagents, parts of airplanes or helicopters and wrist-watches.
The improving market access with Europe through EFTA will encourage investments in the services and non-services sector, bring in high-value added products, technological knowhow, and capital from their highly developed economies to the Philippine economy.