Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries have agreed to push for more trade to improve utilization of the free trade agreement (FTA) stressing the FTA as a tool for economic recovery after the pandemic.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo held bilateral meetings with the EFTA Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Franck Buchel on the sidelines of the just concluded 12 World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting here. The Philippines’ bilateral FTA with EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland was enforced in June 2018.
Rodolfo noted that while the Philippines was able to turn around its trade deficit with the EFTA countries since the FTA was implemented, there is still room for improvement as utilization rate of the preferential tariff privileges by exporters has remained low.
During the talks, Rodolfo highlighted the country’s improving utilization rate of the FTA to 31 percent in 2020 from 30 percent in 2019.
“The Philippines remains keen to maximize the benefits of its second bilateral FTA and is exerting utmost efforts in promoting the use of the FTA,” he said noting that that FTA is a critical tool to help PH/EFTA economies to recover and build back better in a post-pandemic scenario.
Source: Manila Bulletin