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EFTA Parliamentary Committee visits the Philippines

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Parliamentary Committee for the first time visits the Philippines 3-4 October 2016. The delegation has a series of meetings with counterparts from the Philippine Congress, as well as with government officials.

The main purpose of the visit is to discuss the mutual benefits of the recently concluded free trade agreement (FTA) between EFTA and the Philippines, as well as the development of global and regional trade cooperation and other issues of mutual interest.

On 3 October, the EFTA delegation had a working lunch with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Sen. Miguel Zubiri and Sen. JV Ejercito. The talks were very constructive,  and both sides hope for a swift ratification of the FTA in the Philippines and the EFTA countries.

‘This historic visit underlines the value and significance of the free trade agreement between the EFTA counties and the Philippines’, says Ambassador Erik Førner. ‘The visit will strengthen the knowledge of the agreement and further boost trade and economic cooperation between our countries’, he says.

The visiting delegation is composed of 18 members from the four EFTA countries - Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – including ten members of National Parliaments and from the EFTA Secretariat. Norwegian parliament member Svein Roald Hansen is the leader of the delegation.

The Philippines and EFTA signed a free trade agreement on 28 April 2016 in Bern, Switzerland. The agreement will give EFTA members better access to the growing market of the Philippines. At the same time, the agreement will encourage greater investments in the service and non-service sectors and capital inflow for the Philippines. The agreement includes trade in goods and services, investments, intellectual property rights, competition, government procurement, and sustainable development. The free trade agreement concludes the five rounds of negotiations and eight consultations between the two parties.

Details of the free trade agreement can be found here.