Duterte asks Moon to visit PH in 2020 for possible signing of free-trade deal
BUSAN, South Korea — President Rodrigo Duterte has invited Korean President Moon Jae-in to a state visit next year to possibly sign the free-trade agreement (FTA) after the two nations failed to do so this year.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said this here at the port city after Duterte and Moon concluded their bilateral talks Monday with only an “early achievement package” or progress report on the much-awaited FTA.
“That would be a good timing for the signing of the FTA. As you know, meron pa kaming tinapos kasi (we had to finalize a few things first),” Lopez said in an interview referring to the possible state visit.
Under the FTA, the Philippines is seeking lower tariffs for agricultural exports like bananas, pineapple, and mango as well as processed food, industrial products, and auto parts. South Korea, on the other hand, seeks more leeway to ship in auto-related products.
The negotiations started in June this year and were previously targetted to be completed by September and signed in November, in time for the ASEAN-ROK (Republic of Korea) Commemorative Summit and the two countries’ 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Korean Ambassador Han Dong-man expressed hopes on Sunday that the two nations would finally conclude the deal in a bid to finally cure the trade and industry imbalances between the two Asian nations.
Top Korean companies courtesy call
Over 10 top Korean companies have, meanwhile, committed to invest in government projects like the “Build, build, build” infrastructure drive and expand their businesses in the Philippines during a courtesy call with Duterte.
Lopez said Duterte welcomed the commitments and assured the businessmen of “protection, ease of doing business, no delays in permits and full guarantee on their return of investments and remittances.”
Edited by KGA
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