EFTA deal seen generating more investment

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Ramon M. Lopez

THE Department of Trade and Industry is expecting more inbound investment after the Senate on Monday ratified a trade deal with the four-country European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

In a statement on Wednesday, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the agreement means duty-free market access of goods and services between the Philippines and the four EFTA members: Iceland, Leichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

“While there’s a large potential to expand our trade and investment relations with EFTA, the FTA (free trade agreement) also capitalizes on it since trade goods between the Philippines and EFTA are non-competing,” he added.

“With this ratification, the Philippines will benefit from expanded trade engagement with non-EU (European Union) members even as it gives us greater access to the European market,” Mr. Lopez said.

The Philippines currently enjoys preferential trade as recipient of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences plus from the EU which grants reduced to zero tariffs on more than 6,000 types of goods.

The FTA is expected to bring in more investments on finance renewable energy, information technology and business process management, construction and environmental services, and maritime transport.

This will also mean easier entry for Filipino workers into EFTA countries, especially for executives, managers and specialists seconded by their companies, business visitors, and contractual services suppliers, among others.

EFTA is thought to be interested in Philippine products such as desiccated coconut, prepared or preserved pineapple, and raw cane sugar.

On the other hand, the EFTA countries can enjoy duty-free entry into the Philippines of their fruit products, aerated and mineral water products, prepared food, chocolate, cheese and wine.

The EFTA free trade deal takes effect three months after the Philippines and at least one EFTA member ratifies the agreement.

The Philippines has an active FTA with Japan. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato