THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Philippines need to expand its free trade agreement (FTA) network, identifying the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India as potential partners.
“With the UAE we just basically launched the manifestation, the intent to embark on a comprehensive economic partnership. The next step is for us to work with the terms of reference or the scoping paper for the trade negotiation,” Trade Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty told reporters on the sidelines of a forum organized by the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines last week in Makati City.
Mr. Gepty said that the goal is to conclude the FTA with the UAE as soon as possible, though the timetable remains to be worked out.
He said the general goal is to expand market access at favorable tariff rates and to negotiate rules with trading partners to ease the process for trade and investment.
According to Mr. Gepty, such agreements result in a stable and predictable business environment, “because you have committed to that particular regime in an FTA, which is a treaty or international agreement in general.”
“We really have to explore other markets and it’s a good thing that right now as mentioned, we are now embarking on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the UAE; we are also working on a possible preferential trade agreement with India,” he said.
Mr. Gepty said that with India the aim is so far limited to a preferential trade agreement for agricultural products. — Ashley Erika O. Jose