PH eyes FTA with SoKor to take effect by H1 2024

By Kris Crismundo

January 9, 2024, 8:16 pm

MANILA – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said the country targets to implement the Philippines-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the first half of 2024, or around nine months since it was signed by both parties.

“We're hoping that the first half of the year, the Philippines-Korea FTA will already enter into force,” Rodolfo told trade reporters in a recent interview.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier told the Philippine News Agency that the PH-South Korea FTA will be a treaty, which shall undergo ratification by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and shall be concurred by the legislative branch.

DTI Undersecretary Allan Gepty, who is also the country’s lead negotiator for FTAs, said the PH-South Korea FTA’s concurrence by the Senate is expected not to take longer compared to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is a much comprehensive trade pact.

“In a bilateral FTA, the subject matters that are covered are very limited compared to RCEP. So, basically, the focus really is in trade in goods, and of course, trade facilitation rules —no services, no investment. So, it has no other areas like e-commerce, for example. So, it’s more simple. So basically, what we are targeting here is enhancing the market access,” he said over the weekend.

Gepty said that the Philippines, under the FTA with South Korea, bats for zero tariff on tropical fruits such as banana and pineapple, which are the country’s major exports to the East Asian trade partner.

He added that although it will be faster for the FTA to enter into force through an executive agreement, undertaking the trade pact via a treaty will help in the awareness that the country has an FTA with South Korea and promote to utilize this deal. (PNA)