MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) targets to conclude the trade and investment agreement with the United Arab Emirates as early as next year, DTI Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty said Thursday.

During the virtual presser of the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s Office of the Global Media and Public Affairs, Gepty said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with UAE is the country’s free trade agreement (FTA) in the Middle East.

This, as the Philippines and UAE last month both expressed to pursue the CEPA.

“This will be the platform by which we can reach out to the vast market of the Middle East, including the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council),” Gepty said.

He added the Philippines also aims to make the UAE as the country’s gateway to North Africa through CEPA.

The trade deal negotiator said more Filipino brands will be expected in the UAE once CEPA is concluded.

Gepty said through CEPA, the country aims to stabilize trade relations with UAE, especially petroleum imports.

He said the two countries will now work on the terms of reference of the deal and negotiate what elements will be included in the deal.

Both the Philippines and UAE will conduct their respective studies and consultations with stakeholders. (PNA)