Local exporters and MSMEs can receive expert guidance on how to take full advantage of the Philippines-EFTA free trade agreement (PH-EFTA FTA) to break into and expand their existing operations in Europe in an upcoming webinar organized by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture on September 28, 2021, from 4 p.m.  to 6 p.m.

In June 2018, the country’s free trade deal with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland entered into force after a near 10-year journey that started when the EFTA member-states indicated their interest in forming an agreement in 2009.

Under the agreement, Philippine exporters benefit from reduced, if not zero, tariffs, liberal rules of origin, and trade-facilitating features aimed at increasing two-way trade. The FTA also eliminates the need to secure a Certificate of Origin from the Bureau of Customs.

Since the agreement came into effect, the Philippines was able to turn its trade deficit around with EFTA, DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said in the first episode of the PH-EFTA FTA video series. The Philippines posted a trade surplus of $47 million in 2019 which grew to $109 million in 2020. Despite the pandemic, exports to EFTA grew 6 percent in 2020 to $461 million, with electronic integrated circuits, static converters, crude coconut oil, and prepared and preserved pineapples among those that make up our top industrial and agricultural exports.

“This [PH-EFTA FTA] is part of the DTI’s commitment to help our businesses—big and small alike—to grow, become global, and share in the benefits of international trade by opening new markets for Philippine products,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said.

In addition to promoting trade in goods, the EFTA also improves trade in services. Philippine service suppliers, particularly architects and engineers who want to test their skills in EFTA, can benefit from commitments by the member-countries for cross-border movement.

For the upcoming webinar, officials from the EFTA Secretariat in Geneva will walk the audience through the process of navigating the regulatory landscape to be able to export to EFTA.

Krisztina Bende, trade relations division director of the EFTA Secretariat, will headline the event. Ola Godø Andersen, senior officer, will discuss trade in goods, rules of origin, and trade facilitation. Inger Gregersen, officer, will touch on government procurement, trade, and sustainable development. Bruno Hässig, officer, will cover trade in goods, agriculture, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues.  A speaker from the Philippine Bureau of Customs will also discuss the PH-EFTA approved exporter scheme in detail.

If you’re interested in joining the webinar, please register through this link. To learn more about the PH-EFTA FTA, watch this YouTube playlist. The webinar is organized by the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in Bern and Stockholm, the Office of the Agriculture Attaché in Geneva, with the support of the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau and the DTI-Bureau of International Trade Relations.

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