PH, Korea FTA signed this year

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    The Philippines and Korea are eyeing to finalize a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) this year despite facing delays in the negotiations.

    Lead negotiator Ceferino Rodolfo, undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said he recently had a meeting with the newly-appointed director-general for trade policy, Hyuk Sin Lee of Korea to move the talks stopped by travel restrictions as well as a change in the lead negotiator.

    Rodolfo said another meeting in the second week of September.

    According to Rodolfo, South Korea’s original trade negotiator was assigned to the Blue House to become the President’s secretary on Southeast Asia Policy.

    Rodolfo views these reassignments as favorable.

    “It’s good to know someone with good knowledge of the Philippines is in that kind of a position although on the process and timing standpoint, the FTA was affected,” he said.

    Virtual meetings will continue to “finish our FTA with Korea this year.”

    The parties eyed to seal the FTA before the Asean-Korea Meeting is held in Seoul in November last year due to unresolved tariff cuts.

    The Philippines is asking South Korea to bring down to at least 5 percent the current 30 percent tariff applied on its agricultural exports, mostly bananas and mangoes.South Korea wants the Philippines to abolish the 5 percent tariff on cars and extend preferential duty treatment on its exports of car parts.