Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines keen to engage in trade with the South Korean market can tap the newly opened KOTRA Manila Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Support Center to access information on business opportunities and get support in optimizing the benefits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Korea FTA.
The support center was launched June 25 by Korea Trade Center Manila (KOTRA Manila), a national trade promotion organization operated by the Korean government. The center’s goal is to expand bilateral trade by helping SMEs make full use of the opportunities from the FTA, said KOTRA Manila.
The Philippines and South Korea opened earlier this month negotiations for a Philippine-Korea FTA. Expected to be concluded in November 2019, the trade deal is seen not only to improve trade and investment flows between the two countries but also to bolster opportunities for Filipino SMEs.
Korea FTA utilization rate by ASEAN SMEs has been found to be low “due to a lack of PR activities and available information,” something the FTA support center hopes to overcome, according to a presentation from the Bureau of Domestic Policy in FTAs of Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Among causes cited for the difficulties of SMEs in utilizing FTAs are lack of FTA utilization capability; lack of computerization of origin management (e.g., materials/components) as well as supplier management; and SMEs derive less benefit from FTAs compared to large companies due to a smaller volume of exports.
To address these challenges, KOTRA Manila FTA Support Center offers support services including open FTA seminars and lectures; guidebooks on FTA utilization; consultations on FTA procedures and assistance in overcoming obstacles to making full use of the FTA; and facilitation on grievance resolution.
KOTRA data show that trade between the Philippines and South Korea reached US$15.606 billion in 2018, up from the previous year’s $14.296 billion.
In 2018, both countries were the eighth top export destinations of each other’s products. Philippine exports to South Korea reached $2.542 billion last year, while Korean exports to the Philippines totaled $12.037 billion.
The KOTRA Manila FTA support center is the latest to join the KOTRA FTA support network spread out in China, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, India, and Thailand.
KOTRA Manila FTA Support Center is located at Unit 1, 14/F, Ore Central, 31st street corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. It may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (02) 894-4084.