BUSAN, South Korea—The Philippines is pushing for the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea to slash import tariffs on certain products particularly bananas from the Philippines, the country’s ambassador to South Korea said.
South Korea imposes 30 percent tariff on Philippine-produced bananas while other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) enjoy better preferential treatment, Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Noe Albano Wong said during an interview with the media Sunday.
“Well that is really why we are really pushing for this resumption or completion of this free trade agreement. But you know, it’s a basis for negotiation,” Ambassador Wong said. “Before, the importation of ban — of Korea of banana is 100 percent from the Philippines but they started importing from South American countries like Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru.”
Wong said South Korea has so much economic exposure in those countries and the South American nations are demanding a quid pro quo. “That’s why Korea has to import corresponding numbers so our banana is reduced to more or less 85 percent.
But despite the 30 percent tariff imposed on Philippine bananas, South Korea is still flooded with the product originating from the Philippines.
The discussion on a free trade agreement between the Philippines and South Korea was launched last June 3, with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez spearheading the talks.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is expected to arrive here for the 2019 Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-KOR) Commemorative Summit. He will also hold bilateral talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The ASEAN and South Korea are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their bilateral relations.
The event is also momentous for the Philippines and South Korea as the two nations commemorate this year the 70th anniversary of their bilateral relations. The two countries forged bilateral ties on May 3, 1949. PND