Philippines, United Kingdom eye possible free trade pact
(The Philippine Star) - August 26, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and the United Kingdom have expressed their willingness to enter into a bilateral agreement should the latter successfully make its exit from the European Union (EU).

High-ranking trade officials from both countries yesterday supported the idea of a future free trade agreement (FTA).

“The opportunity for our own FTA with the Philippines is exciting and there’s no reason why we cannot have any form of discussions of that as the Brexit’s process moves forward,” said Richard Graham, British Prime Minister’s trade envoy to the Philippines.

We see an opportunity to work on a possible FTA bilaterally (with the UK) if the Brexit implementation kicks in. That is definitely one area we can work with the UK,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said separately.

Lopez said a bilateral deal with the UK would allow the country more flexibility in selecting products and services to be included, as opposed to what it would have with the entire EU.

The Philippines is currently negotiating an FTA with the 28-member economic bloc known as the EU.

In June, however, the UK, which is part of the EU, decided to leave the economic bloc following a referendum.

Graham said the Philippines and UK would not be able to start any talks on any potential FTA until the latter officially exits the EU.

He, however, noted, that there was “a lot of enthusiasm” on both sides to forge an agreement.

“The UK and the Philippines have such a strong relationship and let’s make it more stronger,” Graham said.

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