The Department of Trade and Industry said Monday it will review bilateral and regional trade agreements with major trading partners starting in the first quarter of 2021.
It said for review are the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, ASEAN+1 Free Trade Agreements like ASEAN+China and ASEAN+Korea and ASEAN+Australia+New Zealand.
“For the first quarter of 2021, we will be working out the general review of PJEPA. We have to meet the working trade group on trade-in goods since there are still some market access that we are pushing in the PJEPA,” said DTI Assistant Secretary Alan Gepty.
He said the department was preparing for a series of meetings on the ASEAN-1 FTAs. It will also continue the discussions on the ASEAN- Australia-New Zealand FTA in the first quarter.
“There are also other regional FTAs that we are working on and other possible FTAs on the pipeline, but they will depend on the outcome of our talks, particularly on issues and on reference papers with our trading partners,” Gepty said.
He said the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership freed some resources to pursue other trade and economic discussions.
Gepty said the conclusion of RCEP might open up opportunities to restart the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that includes Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam plus Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru.
The proposed global trade bloc seeks stricter common standards on labor issues, environmental protection and dispute resolution than those proposed in the RCEP.
Gepty said on top of the FTAs and trade agreements, the Philippines was able to address the issues raised on the country’s compliance with the requirement for the continuity of the EU Generalized Systems Program Plus.
The EU GSP+ is an important program especially for micro, small and medium enterprises that export to the EU. More 6,000 tariff lines enter the vast EU market tariff-free under the program.
The EU will launch by the first quarter of 2021 a monitoring mission to the Philippines which may be done virtually. The Philippines submitted in September its position to the compliance issues raised by the EU.
Gepty said the DTI also received confirmation that the UK was open to continuing the GSP+ program with the Philippines under the same conditions as the EU GSP+.