DTI sets talks with stakeholders on PHL-EFTA trade deal

MANILA, Nov. 9 (PNA) — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has set discussions with local stakeholders on Nov. 10 (Tuesday) regarding the potential trade agreement with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries.

Members of business sector and civil society organizations are expected to attend the consultation which will tap issues on free trade agreement such as technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, public procurement, competition, and trade and sustainable development, the DTI said.

“Our goal is to maximize benefits of our trade agreements with Europe. An FTA with EFTA is a logical next step to expand market access of the Philippines in the continent,” DTI Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said.

On Nov. 24 to 27, the Philippines and EFTA will hold its fourth round of negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The DTI sees huge potential to enter in FTA with EFTA as bilateral trade and investment figures of the Philippines and EFTA remain small.

Data from DTI shows that Philippines’ exports to EFTA only shared less than 1.0 percent of the country’s total exports in 2013.

On the other hand, bilateral trade between the Philippines and EFTA in 2014 reached USD636 million.

Investments of EFTA members in the Philippines also significantly declined to PHP37.81 million in 2013 from PHP13.81 billion in 2010. The Philippines only get 4.61 percent of EFTA’s total investments to Southeast Asia.

Thus, the Philippines wants to increase its trade with EFTA and lure more investments from the economic bloc through FTA.

Among the exports interests of the Philippines to EFTA include electronic goods, fresh or chilled fish fillets, prepare or preserved tunas, pneumatic tires, travelling bags, t-shirt, jackets, bicycles, desiccated coconuts, crude coconut oil, pineapple juice, prepared or preserved pineapples, raw cane sugar, frames and mounting for spectacles, parts of gas turbines, ball bearings, hydraulic power engines and motors, babies’ garments, undergarments, dresses, fresh or dried bananas, palm oil, fresh or dried guava, mango, mangosteen, and pineapple, ballasts for discharge lamps or tubes, gear boxes and parts, safety airbags, mattress supports for bed frames, tobacco, vinegar, glycerol, artificial teeth, seaweeds and other algae, fruit and vegetable juice, jams, jellies, and marmalade.

EFTA member states include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. (PNA)