PH, South Korea sign free trade agreement

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PH, Korea sign free trade agreement
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (left) and South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol witnessed the signing of the Philippines-Korea free trade agreement on Sept 7, 2023. Photo from the Presidential Communications Office.
  • The Philippines and South Korea signed a free trade agreement (FTA) on September 7 seen to further enhance economic ties between the two Asian countries
  • Under the FTA, South Korea will remove tariff on 94.8% of all items while the Philippines will lift tariff on 96.5% of all products traded
  • The agreement is expected to come into force in the first half of 2024
  • The signing of the FTA comes two years after conclusion of negotiations in 2021

The Philippines and South Korea signed a free trade agreement (FTA) on September 7 seen to further enhance economic ties between the two Asian countries.

The Philippines-Korea FTA was signed by Philippine Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and South Korea Trade Minister Ahn Duk Geun at the sidelines of the 43rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia. The signing was witnessed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol.

“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,” Marcos said.

For his part, Yoon said he sees the FTA “will set another milestone” in the two countries’ bilateral relations. “I’m really also eager to elevate our partnership to a strategic partnership as we have proposed the last time,” he said.

Under the FTA, South Korea will remove tariff on 94.8% of all items and the Philippines will lift tariff on 96.5% of all products traded, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The agreement is expected to come into force in the first half of next year, it added.

The FTA with the Philippines is South Korea’s fifth signed with an ASEAN member, following those with Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

The Philippines 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 signing of the FTA comes two years after the conclusion of negotiations in 2021. Negotiations for the Philippines-Korea FTA started on June 3, 2019. In November 2019, both countries signed the Early Achievement Package that confirmed the agreement of both sides to lock in the list of already offered at the time. Necessary follow-up procedures, such as legal scrubbing, were wrapped up in July 2023.

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In 2022, South Korea ranked 4th in terms of total bilateral trade valued at US$15.45 billion and 6th in total approved investments valued at $90.62 million.