DTI explores possible PH-Israel trade pact

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sees the possibility of elevating the country’s current economic ties with Israel into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as it seeks to boost trade between the two countries.

Commerce Secretary Alfredo Pascual said on the sidelines of an event in Makati on Wednesday night that “anything is possible” when asked if Israel could be a potential FTA partner for the Philippines.

“I hope we can develop trade between countries,” he added.

The potential FTA is seen as an improvement in the existing trade relations between the parties.

In June, the DTI signed an investment promotion and protection agreement with Israel, which highlights opportunities in agri-technology, life sciences and healthcare, biotechnology and water, high tech and semiconductors, cybersecurity, fintech, defense industry and smart transportation, among others. others.

“We see Israel more as a source of technological products and technological systems,” Pascual said, noting that Israeli investors can invest in Industry 4.0 technologies, including artificial intelligence.

incentives

On the other hand, Pascual said Israeli investors would also find it beneficial to locate in the country given its strong labor force and favorable regulatory environment.

The trade chief also pledged to help Israeli businesses access finance, technology and the market in the country to enable them to thrive.

Pascual said promoting free trade agreements was part of his campaigns as the country’s top trade official. As such, he also reiterated the need to start FTA negotiations with other economies, including the United States.

Manila attempted to enter into an FTA with the United States to make export goods, including clothing, cheaper to enter the West.

But the country is entitled to the benefits of the Generalized System of Preferences of the United States, which allows preferential and duty-free entry into the American market for certain exports. Pascual said the country was in the process of renewing its trade incentives after they expired in December 2020.

Meanwhile, the DTI chief said the FTA with Korea should be signed by November this year. In October last year, Manila and Seoul concluded their FTA negotiations after more than two years of talks.

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