Home » Customs & Trade, Uncategorized » PH-Korea FTA signing moved to next year

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

The Philippines and South Korea have moved the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) from this month to next year as negotiations have come to a standstill, according to Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Lopez said the two countries will instead release an “early achievement package” to report on the progress of negotiations as the two sides commit to continue and conclude the talks by next year.

The early achievement package will be presented during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit to be held on November 25-26.

Lopez said both countries have come to recognize that it would be difficult to get the FTA signed this year amid challenges over some of the requests made by both parties.

“For now, there is still no FTA. Negotiations are on a stalemate. What we will have is probably a joint statement that between the two ministers, there would be an early achievement package, like an early harvest so far on where we agree and we basically commit to finalize and work on what is the improvement of this package for next year’s conclusion,” Lopez said.

The Philippines and South Korea officially launched negotiations for an FTA last June and had targeted signing it this November.

Last October, Lopez said there was a “mismatch” of offers but added they remained hopeful of concluding the agreement by the last week of November.

To improve the balance of trade with South Korea, the Philippines is working to improve market access for its agriculture products such as bananas, pineapples, and mangoes, as well as industrial products and other services, and pushing for better reciprocity of tariff rates.

The Philippines is pushing in particular for an immediate reduction in tariffs on banana exports to South Korea to 5% from the current 30%.

The trade chief said they will also discuss the movement of natural persons and more investment opportunities that could lead to job generation, as well as greater collaboration in innovation, and research and development “that will support the implementation of our inclusive innovation and industrial strategy.”

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