New submissions on trade deal under review, basic terms hang

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    The basic terms for the planned Philippines-Korea free trade agreement (FTA) stand a 50-50 chance of being finalized this month as new submission of offers are being reviewed, according to Ramon Lopez, secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

    Both countries had wanted to wrap up and sign the deal this month in time for the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

    This will be the second economic partnership after the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

    As a member of the Asean-Korea Free Trade Area trade bloc since 2010, the Philippines already enjoys reduced or removed tariffs.

    The Philippines wants South Korea to lower the 25 to 30 percent tariffs on pineapple, banana, mango and coconut to about 5 percent in response to lowered Philippine tariffs for Korean products.

    South Korea is the country’s 10th largest market for exports worth $157.11 million last year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

    South Korea is the country’s fifth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade valued by the DTI at $13.7 billion in 2018.

    South Korea exports mainly industrial products. Top Philippine exports to South Korea are bananas, pineapples and copper; 80 percent of all bananas in South Korea are from Mindanao.