Trade talks between the Philippines and South Korea started Monday discussing the future of a bilateral free trade agreement in Seoul.
Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez agreed to officially launch the negotiations toward a bilateral free trade accord that would cover the removal of impediments to trade and creation of more business and investment opportunities.
Aside from Philippine agricultural products, the Philippines is expected to push for concessions on electric vehicles. The Philippines proposed to help Korea build a battery production hub in the Philippines where local companies can supply nickel for the electric batteries and copper for cars and vehicles.
The Trade Department said if talks on EV progressed, the Philippines could also ask Korea to reduce the tariff on other imported parts used in making EV batteries.
Other items on the agenda are issues on government processes such as procurement, intellectual property, public utilities, and services.
Korea earlier confirmed its interest to advance the discussions on an Asean-Korea FTA on top of a bilateral free trade with the Philippines.
The Philippines wants a further reduction in the most favored nation or MFN rates potentially to zero.
The Philippines and Korea are putting their best effort to complete the FTA by November 2019 to coincide with the 2019 ROK-Asean Commemorative Summit.
Both ministers committed to conclude a comprehensive and future-oriented FTA to provide for greater market access for goods and services, improved investment opportunities and collaboration in the fields of innovation and research and development to foster the development of industries of the future.
Both countries aim to create more favorable conditions and substantial benefits to exporters, investors, industries, workforce and MSMEs of their two countries, Lopez said.
The two ministers expressed enthusiasm on the FTA providing for a very strong foundation towards building not only closer but also a strategic partnership between South Korea and the Philippines.