The Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries have agreed to push for more trade to improve the free trade agreement (FTA) as it serves as a tool for economic recovery after the pandemic.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo held bilateral meetings with the EFTA Secretariat Deputy Secretary-General Franck Buchel on the sidelines of the just concluded 12 World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting here.
The Philippines’ bilateral FTA with EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland was enforced in June 2018.
Rodolfo noted that while the Philippines was able to turn around its trade deficit with the EFTA countries since the FTA was implemented, there is still room for improvement as the utilization rate of the preferential tariff privileges by exporters has remained low.
During the talks, Rodolfo highlighted the country’s improving utilization rate of the FTA to 31 percent in 2020 from 30 percent in 2019.
“The Philippines remains keen to maximize the benefits of its second bilateral FTA and is exerting utmost efforts in promoting the use of the FTA,” the DTI undersecretary concluded.