Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has urged businessmen from South Korea to increase their trade and investments in the Philippines especially as the two countries gear up for signing of a free trade agreement (FTA).
“We are confident that trade in our country with the signing of the FTA will further expand,” he said during the opening of the Korean-ASEAN FTA Support Center. “The importance of this FTA to the Philippines cannot be overstated, as this will open a new and enhanced market for Philippine products.”
Lopez said the FTA with South Korea is expected to be signed in November.
He particularly cited Philippine bananas and other tropical fruits, while South Korea gains more market access in its automotive parts and manufactured products.
In 2018, South Korea was the country’s fourth major trading partner. It is the Philippine eighth export market and top import supplier.
“In other words, we import more than (we)export in Korea and I appreciate the efforts right from the Ambassador to the Philippines from Korea himself saying that in order to prosper, the two countries should have a win-win and a neutrally beneficial trading relationship. So as we try to grow our two-way trade, there is suppose to be a consciousness on balancing the trade between our two countries,” he added.
The trade chief further invited the business community in South Korea to expand their investment in the Philippines and take advantage of the country’s economic breakthrough.
Lopez said the Philippines is still the second fastest growing economy among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, next to Vietnam.
“Aside from many strong economic fundamentals and a highly skilled workforce, the Philippine government has enacted several reform measures to ensure the protection of investments from foreign investors,” he said.
In 2018, Lopez said the Duterte administration pushed for the enactment of Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing BUsiness (EODB) law, which enhances the existing Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007. The law is already in effect.
He said it is also focused on passing key reforms to “complete the economic narrative”, including the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) Bill, the Public Service Act, the Amendments to the Foreign Investment Negative List or the Foreign Investment Act, the Amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Innovation Act, and the Innovative Startup Bill.