President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. witnessed on Thursday the signing of the Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement (PH-KR FTA), which is considered a milestone for enhanced partnership between the Philippines and South Korea. (Photo courtesy of PCO)

To enhance the partnership between the Philippines and South Korea, a formal Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement (PH-KR FTA) was signed on Thursday by Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Trade Minister Ahn Duk Geun on the occasion of the 24th ASEAN-Korea Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia..

“For the Philippines, this FTA serves as a clear demonstration of the intent to elevate the current bilateral relations with South Korea to a stronger strategic partnership. The Philippines’ engagement with South Korea is built on trade through market access, economic cooperation, and investments through collaboration in targeted sectors such as critical minerals and supply chains,” Pascual said.

South Korea is a valued trade and investment partner of the Philippines. In 2022, it ranked 4th in terms of total bilateral trade valued at US$15.45 billion and 6th in total approved investments valued at US$90.62 million.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. witnessed on Thursday the signing of the PH-KR FTA, which was seen to further enhance the vibrant relationship between the Philippines and South Korea.

“Well, the signing of the FTA is certainly a very big step in that regard. It can only be a successful arrangement for both our countries. I look forward to the expansion of the trade agreement between your country and mine.

“When I look at the involvement of Korea and the Philippines, I can say that the relationship between our two countries remains vibrant. And I think it is accelerating … I would like to take this opportunity to deepen further that relationship,” Marcos said.

Marcos looked positive that the trade agreement between the Philippines and South Korea would go beyond the government-to-government partnerships, and will include private firms and private sector partners.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said that he is interested to improve the strategic partnership between the Philippines and South Korea as he emphasized that the PH-KR FTA “will set another important milestone” in the relationship between the two countries.

“I’m really also eager to elevate our partnership to a strategic partnership as we have proposed the last time. And in this regard, I believe that the Korea-Philippines Free Trade Agreement signed later today will set another important milestone in our bilateral relations,” Yoon told Marcos.

Yoon said that they were eager on expanding opportunities for overseas Filipino workers in South Korea under their “employment permit system” as he expressed his interest in the supply chain of critical materials, allowing the Philippines to shift to a nuclear power plant.

Marcos expressed thanks to Yoon for their financial support for development projects in the Philippines as he looks forward to learning the South Korean experience in terms of energy sources development.

Marcos extended his gratitude to the South Korean government for its continued support for the defense and security measures of the Philippines especially on the South China Sea issues and on the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Also, Marcos acknowledged that South Koreans remain the top tourists in the Philippines.

With the PH-KR FTA,  the Philippines anticipates major economic gains with enhanced market access to South Korea, which includes exports for key products such as tropical fruits and other  robust mechanism for cooperation.

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