L to R: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo, DTI Secretary Ramon M.
Lopez, Senator Loren B. Legarda, Department of Foreign
Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Manuel Antonio J. Teehankee,
and DFA Assistant Secretary Leo M. Herrera-Lim.
Sec. Lopez lauds
Senate approval PH-EFTA Free Trade Agreement
March 7, 2018
PASAY CITY – Trade
Secretary Ramon Lopez hailed the ratification of the Senate of the
Philippines-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement
(PH-EFTA FTA) during its third reading last 05 March 2018.
“The PH-EFTA FTA is in
line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s strategy of pursuing trade
relations with non-traditional as well as high potential trade
partners. With this ratification, the Philippines will benefit from
expanded trade engagements with non-EU members even as it gives us
greater access to the European market,” said Sec. Lopez.
The agreement will allow
duty-free market access between the Philippines and the EFTA member
states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) to trade
products and services and facilitate investments.
Sec. Lopez said: “While
there’s a large potential to expand our trade and investment
relations with EFTA, the FTA also capitalizes on it since trade
goods between the Philippines and EFTA are non-competing.”
The FTA benefits the PH
especially in exporting agricultural, industrial, and fishery
products. Once the FTA is in place, EFTA will grant duty-free market
access to all industrial and fishery products from PH.
PH will also gain tax
incentives on agricultural products, particularly those (1) that are
currently being exported to the EFTA Member States such as
desiccated coconut, prepared or preserved pineapples, and raw cane
sugar; (2) with high potential export interest, including those
exported to neighboring European countries, which can be
alternatively exported to EFTA countries.
“This will improve the
country’s market share vis-à-vis the other ASEAN countries in the
EFTA market. The Philippines can take the opportunity to position
itself as EFTA’s primary import source of these products,” said
Senator Loren B. Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations during her speech at the Senate last February 26.
In return, PH will also
grant EFTA countries duty-free market access on most industrial and
fishery products as well as market access on goods such as temperate
fruits, mineral and aerated waters, food preparations, chocolate,
cheese and wine.
The agreement will also
welcome foreign investments on renewable energy, computer and
related services (IT-BPM), construction, environmental services,
maritime transport, and finance.
workers will also have easier entry in the 4 countries. The
agreement allows temporary stay of the following service suppliers,
without the need for an economic needs test: (1) executives,
managers and specialists (who are intra-corporate transfers), (2)
business visitors, (3) contractual service suppliers, and (4)
installers of service industrial machinery.
The PH-EFTA FTA will be
effective three months after its ratification in PH and at least one
EFTA member state. Once implemented, this is the Philippines’ second
bilateral FTA after the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership
Agreement (JPEPA) in 2008.