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Legarda Submits Notification of PH Ratification of Free Trade Agreement with EFTA States

March 28, 2018

In a meeting with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo on March 27, Senator Loren Legarda submitted a notification on the Philippines’ ratification of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States—an intergovernmental organization consisting of the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway, and the Swiss Confederation.

Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s ratification of the PH-EFTA FTA on December 8, 2017, Legarda, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, sponsored and successfully sought concurrence from the Philippine Senate on March 5, 2018.

Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have deposited their respective instruments of ratification in 2017. Following the Philippines’ submission, the FTA will enter into force on the first day of the third month following the submission of the Philippines and at least one EFTA member state of their instruments of ratification to Norway as Depositary.

“We are happy to report and discuss with our counterparts the progress of the Free Trade Agreement, which will cover areas of mutual concern, such as trade in goods, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade in services, investment, competition, protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement, trade and sustainable development, institutional provisions, and dispute settlement,” Legarda said.

She explained that, upon the Agreement’s entry into force, the EFTA States will abolish all customs duties on imports of industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating in the Philippines. The Philippines, on the other hand, will gradually eliminate customs duties on industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating in an EFTA State.

Legarda noted that this is the second bilateral free trade agreement of the Philippines—the first being the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA). This will further provide access to the European market for Filipino products and services.

The Senator also emphasized that entering into agreements, such as this, sends a clear message to the international market that the Philippines is indeed ready and “open for business.”

“We need to sustain and forge new economic partnerships with other countries in order to provide the Filipino products, skills, and talents the kind of access and attention in the global market that they deserve,” Legarda said.

Senator Loren Legarda is in Geneva, Switzerland as head of the Philippine Delegation to the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) from March 24-28, 2018.