peza-tereso-panga PEZA FTA Philippines

FTAs seen to bring more exporters into PEZA zones

PEZA Director General Tereso Panga has stated that the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) stands to gain benefits from free trade agreements (FTAs). He explained that these agreements could attract more investments to the export zones.

Panga expressed his approval for the renewed interest of both parties in resuming negotiations for the European Union (EU)-Philippines FTA.

Panga discussed the potential for the Philippines to establish free trade deals with three countries. These countries are firstly South Korea, secondly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and thirdly, Canada. This comes after the country’s accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which became effective on June 2, 2023. Panga discussed this during the signing of a joint memorandum circular between PEZA and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Details of PEZA FTA negotiations

The Philippines-South Korea FTA has been finalized and awaits the signatures of the leaders of both countries. Panga highlighted the intention to establish FTAs with the UAE, targeting the Middle East market. He also highlighted FTAs with Canada, aiming to boost investments from North America.

Negotiations between the Philippines and UAE have been ongoing for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). According to the  Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), a conclusion is expected this year. Canada seeks to establish an FTA with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

According to data provided by PEZA to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), EU companies have invested a total of PHP 389 billion in economic zones. South Korea contributed PHP 92.2 billion. Canada contributed PHP 8.4 billion. And finally, the entire Middle East contributed PHP 1.26 billion.

In the context of these developments, Panga emphasized that a bilateral free trade agreement with the EU would safeguard the advantages for PEZA locators exporting to the European market. He mentioned that many of these locators have historically benefited from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).  Uncertainties surround the renewal of GSP+. Panga suggested that engaging the EU in signing a bilateral free trade agreement would provide enhanced protection for Philippine exporters across Europe.

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