News Release

President Duterte welcomes country’s free trade pact with South Korea

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomed Tuesday the signing of the Philippines-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement, believing stronger economic partnerships are keys toward economic recovery as nations bounce back from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

“We welcome the signing of the Philippines-ROK Free Trade Agreement today. This is a step towards deeper integration, which is needed for our economies to recover and bounce back,” President Duterte said during his virtual participation to the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Summit.

Saying COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of many economies, the President called for a deeper regional economic integration.

All efforts, he said, must be exerted for the full implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement and ensure the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Praising South Korea for its exemplary coronavirus response, the President expressed his gratitude for ROK’s generous contribution to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.

“As we work towards recovery, we welcome collaboration on vaccine production and other initiatives under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework,” he said.

“With the convening of the ASEAN-ROK Health Dialogue Channel, we also look forward to closer cooperation in public health security.”

The Philippine president also described the Joint Statement on Advancing ASEAN-ROK Cooperation as a key action document, highlighting complementarities between ROK’s New Southern Policy Plus and ASEAN’s major strategies to build a community of peace and prosperity in the post COVID-19 period.

At the same time, he expressed the country’s support for the upgrade of South Korea’s New Southern Policy, particularly the major initiatives aimed at enhancing people-to-people connectivity.

“Cooperation in the digital content industry, through capacity building and co-production, can certainly bring our peoples even closer together,” he pointed out.

He also brought up the need to secure peace in the Korean Peninsula, stressing it should remain a priority issue for all.

“The Philippines reiterates its call for all parties to continue dialogue and work towards lasting peace and stability in a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” he said. PND