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Philippines, United Kingdom eyeing talks on bilateral free trade despite Brexit

The Philippines and the United Kingdom are preparing for a bilateral free trade partnership despite the latter’s decision to leave the European Union.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Monday, Manila and London would hold preparatory meetings for the bilateral framework.

He said the Embassy of the United Kingdom in the Philippines led by Ambassador Daniel Pruce started its own preparation for the talks.

“They appreciate the strong campaigns of government on anti-competition policies, ease of doing business, regulatory reforms, and MSME [micro, small and medium enterprises] training,” said Lopez.

He said the Philippines was liberalizing its foreign negative investment list to mobilize competition and increase opportunities for MSMEs.

Lopez said he planned to meet with UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox during a mission to the UK in September 2017.

The meeting with Fox will touch on opportunities for both countries and the UK’s plans after Brexit.

The September roadshow aimed to promote trade and investments between both countries and meet with major British companies for possible investments in the Philippines.

The Philippines also seeks to mainstream retail companies “as part of our drive to have Filipino brands inside major markets abroad.”

London and Westminster member of parliament Mark Field is also set to visit the Philippines on Aug.16 to 17 to discuss the trade arrangement. Othel V. Campos

Lopez said while the UK was not one of the country’s biggest trade partners, the Philippines should strive to improve the trade situation with London.

He said having a free trade agreement with the UK would give the country an opportunity to build the relationship in a stronger fashion and enhance trade arrangements with one of the world’s largest economies.

“The difference, compared to an FTA with EU is that there might be different sets of products and services that will be mutually beneficial for the two countries but not for the entire EU,” Lopez said.

He said the Philippines was open to having a bilateral FTA with the UK but this could only happen once the British government completed the Brexit.

Topics: Philippines , United Kingdom , bilateral free trade , European Union , Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
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