Promises to keep

The economic relationship between the Philippines and Korea gets a fresh fillip when House Speaker Martin Romualdez met his Korean counterpart Kim Jin-Pyo on Monday, with a bid to lubricate trade and investment flow between the two countries.

The speakers agree to ratify the Free Trade Agreement between Korea and the Philippines as soon as possible to meet the July target earlier set by the Philippine Trade department.

The FTA negotiations between Korea and the Philippines began in 2019 and ended in 2021.

Once ratified, the FTA will improve market access of fruit and industrial exports.

Under the FTA, South Korea’s auto-parts exports to the Philippines will be duty-free in five years, while Philippine banana and processed pineapple exports to South Korea will have zero tariffs in five and seven years, respectively.

Today, South Korea charges Philippine banana exports 30-percent tariff.

Kim also acknowledged that the Philippines is rich in nickel and copper.

“Clean energy is needed to advance the mining and manufacturing industries,” Kim said, and, thus, nuclear power plants are also a promising area of cooperation.

He said small-module nuclear power plants will be the most suitable for the Philippines to develop its mining industry.

Both countries are very keen on buttressing their mutual defenses.

In time for Speaker Kim’s visit, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the 70th Anniversary Resolution of the Armistice Agreement.

The Philippines dispatched the largest number of soldiers among Asean nations during the Korean War.

“Let’s continue to have various types of joint operations in the future, and strengthen the military capabilities of the two countries through cooperation in developing weapons systems and defense cooperation,” Kim said.

In a meeting with Senate President Migz Zubiri, Kim said that Korean submarine is made with top-notch ship-building skills and are considered one of the strongest and least expensive.

The country is interested in strengthening its defense further through ships, submarines and jets, Zubiri said.

It’s also noteworthy Korea’s disaster-recovery team, “Araw Unit,” deployed to the Philippines in the aftermath of typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.

While other countries’ units returned after a month or two of recovery support, the Korean unit stayed for a year to provide hospital recovery, school and bridge construction, and education.

Kim also met with Vice President Sara Duterte, and emphasized that South Korean companies are already participating in large-scale infrastructure projects in the Philippines, what with the country’s outstanding skills in bridge construction.

He also expressed his hopes for further peace and safety in Mindanao as they also want Koreans to visit the island.

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