The Philippines expects to increase exports of merchandise goods and services to four European countries after the Senate ratified the free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association on March 5.
EFTA is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
“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,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The agreement will allow duty-free market access between the Philippines and the EFTA member states to trade products and services and facilitate investments.
Once the FTA is in place, EFTA will grant duty-free market access to all industrial and fishery products from the Philippines.
The Philippines will also gain tax incentives on agricultural products currently exported to the EFTA countries such as desiccated coconut, prepared or preserved pineapples and raw cane sugar and for those with high potential export interest that are exported to neighboring European countries.
The Philippines in return will 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, construction, environmental services, maritime transport and finance.
Highly-skilled Filipino workers will also have an easier entry to the four member countries. The agreement allows temporary stay of the following service suppliers, without the need for an economic needs test―executives, managers and specialists; business visitors; contractual service suppliers; and installers of service industrial machinery.
The FTA will be effective three months after its ratification in the Philippines and at least one EFTA member state.
The Philippines-EFTA FTA is the country’s second bilateral FTA after the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement signed in 2008.
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