PH, UAE take first step to FTA talks

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PH, UAE take first step to FTA talks
Philippine Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual (left) and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi signed the terms of reference for negotiations of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. Photo from Department of Trade and Industry.
  • The Philippines and United Arab Emirates have paved the way for talks on a proposed free trade deal
  • They signed the terms of reference for negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership
  • The TOR marks the initial step for the proposed bilateral free trade deal
  • The partnership aims to boost exports and attract UAE investments

The Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have taken the first step towards a proposed bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the signing of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for negotiations of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA).

The TOR, signed by Philippine Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi during the sidelines of the recent Conference of the Parties 28, outlines guidelines for the negotiations. It delineates the scope and coverage of the prospective CEPA, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a statement.

The CEPA is envisioned to expand the flow of goods and services exports to the UAE and the greater Gulf region, generate more investments from the UAE, and create more opportunities for professionals and service providers.

DTI said the economic partnership aligns with the Philippines’ trade strategy outlined in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 and the Philippine Export Development Plan 2023-2028. It is part of the nation’s strategy to tap into new markets.

The UAE is the Philippines’ 17th largest trading partner and the top export market among all Gulf Cooperation Council member states. Additionally, the UAE hosts one of the largest populations of overseas Filipinos in the Middle East and serves as a significant hub for well-known Filipino brands and businesses.