Despite continuing Brexit confusion, the Philippines and the United Kingdom are preparing for a bilateral free trade partnership.
Speaking today (Monday, July 16), Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that Manila and London would hold preparatory meetings for a “bilateral framework”.
He added that the British Embassy in Manila, led by Ambassador Daniel Pruce, had also started preparing for the talks.
“They appreciate the strong campaigns of government on anti-competition policies, ease of doing business, regulatory reforms, and MSME [micro, small and medium enterprises] training,” said Lopez.
He said the Philippines was liberalising its foreign negative investment list to mobilise competition and increase opportunities for MSMEs.
He added that he planned to meet with UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox during a mission to the UK in September 2017. The UK’s minister for international trade previously visited the Philippines in April last year.
The meeting with Dr Fox will touch on opportunities for both countries and the UK’s post-Brexit plans.
The September delegation aims to promote trade and investments between both countries. There will also be an opportunity to meet with major British companies for possible investments in the Philippines.
MP Mark Field is also set to visit the Philippines next month to discuss the trade arrangement. Othel V Campos Lopez said that while the UK was not currently one of the country’s biggest trade partners, the Philippines should strive to improve the trade situation with London.
He said having a free trade agreement with the UK would give the country an opportunity to build the relationship in a stronger fashion and enhance trade arrangements with the world’s fifth-largest economy.
“The difference, compared to an FTA with EU is that there might be different sets of products and services that will be mutually beneficial for the two countries but not for the entire EU,” Lopez said.
He added that the Philippines was open to having a bilateral FTA with the UK but this could only happen once the British government completed the process of leaving the EU.
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