The Philippines and South Korea have signed a free trade
agreement (FTA) on the sidelines of the 43rd Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Jakarta,
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and South Korean President Yoon Suk
Yeol witnessed the signing of the FTA between Trade Secretary Alfredo
Pascual and South Korean Trade Minister Ahn Duk Geun on the occasion
of the 24th ASEAN-Korea Summit on Thursday.
Mr. Marcos said the trade agreement would further enhance the vibrant
relationship and partnership between the Philippines and South Korea,
expressing optimism that it would go beyond the
government-to-government partnership to involve private firms and
private sector partners.
“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,” he told Yoon.
“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.”
The Philippines and South Korea began their negotiations for the FTA
in June 2019 and concluded them in October 2021. They were supposed to
sign the agreement in June 2022.
However, they had to do some “legal scrubbing” on the concluded
chapter texts of the FTA, including the Trade in Goods, Trade
Remedies, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, Rules of Origin,
Competition, and Chapters under Legal and Institutional Issues.
The Economic and Technical Cooperation Chapter and Market Access for
Goods were the remaining issues they had to resolve to end the FTA
The newly signed FTA is expected to remove tariffs on most products
from the two countries, opening the door to rapid growth in bilateral
Yoon said he is eager to elevate the strategic partnership between the
Philippines and South Korea.
“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,” he told Mr. Marcos.
Pascual, meanwhile, said the 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,” he said.
The FTA is envisioned to help promote the Philippines as a strong
market for smart and sustainable investments, ensure its major
economic gains with enhanced market access to South Korea, and yield
strategic investments in priority sectors and industries.
South Korea is a valued trade and investment partner of the Philippines.
In 2022, it ranked fourth in terms of total bilateral trade, valued at
USD15.45 billion, and sixth in total approved investments, valued at
Yoon also expressed his interest in the supply chain of critical
materials, allowing the Philippines to shift to a nuclear power plant.
Mr. Marcos thanked Yoon for South Korea’s financial support for
development projects in the Philippines, saying he looks forward to
learning about the South Korean experience in terms of energy source
He 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 the
modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In terms of tourism, Mr. Marcos acknowledged that South Koreans remain the
top tourists in the Philippines.
Yoon said South Korea is keen on expanding opportunities for overseas
Filipino workers through its “employment permit system.”