Agriculture chief thankful to South Korea for new trade agreement

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar has expressed gratitude to the South Korean government for the newly-forged free trade agreement (FTA) with the Philippines.

“We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the South Korean government for granting duty-free market access to several Philippine farm products,” Dar shared a statement to reporters on Tuesday evening.

The free trade agreement includes banana, canned pineapples, okra, papaya, glass eels, refined coconut oil, cashew nuts, fruit juices, among others.

“The recently concluded Free Trade Agreement with South Korea augurs well for Filipino farmers, particularly those planting banana, because this will give them duty-free market access over a five-year period from the current 30 percent tariff that will be gradually reduced by six percentage points every year, starting in 2022, down to zero on the fifth year or 2026,” Dar said.

The agreement cites that the Philippine agriculture products mentioned are in addition to several others that are already being exported to South Korea at zero-duty, under the Asean-Korea FTA, such as avocado, coconut and coconut products (desiccated coconut and crude oil), and carrageenan.

The DA puts premium on nurturing bonds with other countries to help improve the state of agriculture in the Philippines.

Dar said the trade opening to the South Korean market for Philippine agriculture exports is a clear demonstration of the strong economic partnership between the two countries.

“We will continue to nurture this partnership, as we recognize that South Korea has been and will be a reliable partner in our aim to develop and modernize our agriculture and fishery sector, and boost the Philippine economy, amid the global pandemic,” he said.

Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency cited in an earlier report that South Korea was expanding FTAs with emerging countries in Southeast Asia like the Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia, as well as Latin American nations to reduce its reliance on major economies in terms of trade.

Manila and Seoul agreed to pursue FTA in 2019 to improve market access for goods and services.

The two countries have trade pacts through regional deals, such as the Asean-Korea FTA and the newly concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, meanwhile, said the Philippines-Korea FTA has implications for European businesses, particularly in trade of high-end automotive vehicles.

The FTA will make high-end cars produced in South Korea more competitive than those coming from Europe.

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