Switzerland has urged the Philippines to ratify the free trade agreement (FTA) with European Free Trade Association (Efta) to make the deal enforceable.
In a meeting with the Philippines-Swiss Business Council of the Philippines, Swiss Ambassador Andrea Reichlin said that the Swiss Parliament had ratified the Efta-Philippines FTA and is now awaiting for the Philippines’ ratification for the trade agreement to take effect.
“Let me here just quickly mention that we do not have to wait for all Efta states to ratify the agreement. Ratification by Switzerland and the Philippines is all it takes for the FTA to come into force,” Reichlin said.
Efta is composed of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
Negotiations for the Philippines-Efta FTA was launched in March 2015 and was concluded in February 2016.
“What can we look forward to when free trade between our countries take full effect? Both Swiss and Filipino producers will profit from input goods at lower prices; both Swiss and Filipino consumers will have access to lower priced products and a wider choice of products,” Reichlin said.
The FTA between the Philippines and Efta states covers trade in goods and services, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, investment, competition, protection of intellectual property, government procurement, trade and sustainable development, institutional provisions, and dispute settlement.
Once FTA takes effect, Efta states will abolish all customs duties on imports of industrial products, including fish and other marine products from the Philippines while the Asian country will gradually eliminate customs duties for the said products originating from Efta states.
The Swiss envoy stressed that once the FTA was ratified by the Philippines, stronger economic ties between the Philippines and Switzerland will further improve.
“Both Swiss and Filipino producers will profit from input goods at lower prices through the trade agreement,” said Reichlin.
“Both Swiss and Filipino consumers will have access to lower priced products and a wider choice of products. The increased competition will foster productivity gains,” she added.
Switzerland, the envoy said, has a network of 28 FTS with 38 partners outside the European Union.
“By Swiss experience, there will be a market increase in trade flows especially in the first four years following the entry into force of the FTA,” Reichlin said.
Swiss exports to free trade partners outside of the European Union rose by an average of 8.5 per cent per annum in the first four years following the entry into force of the respective FTAs.
“In addition, there will be significant savings in customs duties by companies from both sides,” she said.
Also at the meeting were Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, PCCI Chairman Benedicto V. Yujuico, PCCI small and medium industry co-chairman Apolinar Aure, and council officers Luis E. Mendez, Ernesto S. Mascenon, Benjamin M. Los Banos, Reiner Gloor, Pat Cortez, and Melanie Zoref (embassy commercial officer).
The Philippines is Switzerland’s sixth largest trading partner in Southeast Asia.
Among Swiss companies in the Philippines are Nestle, DKSH, SGS, Nolcim, Novartis and Zuellig.