President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. witnessed on Thursday the signing of the Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
Speaking to South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the sidelines of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, President Marcos said that the agreement would further enhance the vibrant relationship between the Philippines and South Korea.
“Well, the signing of the FTA is certainly a very big step in that regard. It can only be a successful arrangement for both our countries. I look forward to the expansion of the trade agreement between your country and mine,” President Marcos said.
“When I look at the involvement of Korea and the Philippines, I can say that the relationship between our two countries remains vibrant. And I think it is accelerating … I would like to take this opportunity to deepen further that relationship,” he said.
President Marcos also hopes that the trade agreement between the Philippines and South Korea will go beyond the government-to-government partnerships, and will include private firms and private sector partners.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said that he is eager to elevate the strategic partnership between the Philippines and South Korea as he emphasized that the PH-KR FTA “will set another important milestone” in the relationship between the two countries.
“I’m really also eager to elevate our partnership to a strategic partnership as we have proposed the last time. And in this regard, I believe that the Korea-Philippines Free Trade Agreement signed later today will set another important milestone in our bilateral relations,” President Yoon told President Marcos.
President Yoon also emphasized that they are keen on expanding opportunities for overseas Filipino workers in South Korea under their “employment permit system” as he expressed his interest in the supply chain of critical materials, allowing the Philippines to shift to a nuclear power plant.
President Marcos, meanwhile, thanked Yoon for their financial support for development projects in the Philippines as he looks forward to learning the South Korean experience in terms of energy sources development.
The President also extended his gratitude to the South Korean government for its continued support for the defense and security measures of the Philippines especially on the South China Sea issues and on the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In terms of the tourism industry, President Marcos also acknowledged that South Koreans remain the top tourists in the Philippines.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Trade Minister Ahn Duk Geun signed the PH-KR FTA in the presence of President Marcos and President Yoon on the occasion of the 24th ASEAN-Korea Summit.
“For the Philippines, this FTA serves as a clear demonstration of the intent to elevate the current bilateral relations with South Korea to a stronger strategic partnership. The Philippines’ engagement with South Korea is built on trade through market access, economic cooperation, and investments through collaboration in targeted sectors such as critical minerals and supply chains,” Pascual said.
As a milestone to further enhance the Philippines and South Korea partnership through increased trade and investment relations as well as job generation, the FTA is also envisioned to significantly contribute to the Philippines’ value proposition as a strong market for smart and sustainable investments, especially as a manufacturing and export hub in the region.
With the addition of the PH-KR FTA to its roster of free trade agreements, the Philippines also anticipates major economic gains with enhanced market access to South Korea, which includes exports for key products such as tropical fruits, as well as a comprehensive and robust mechanism for cooperation.
The partnership can lead to strategic investments in priority sectors and industries.
South Korea is a valued trade and investment partner of the Philippines. In 2022, it ranked 4th in terms of total bilateral trade valued at $15.45 billion and 6th in total approved investments valued at $90.62 million.