Westman Islands, Iceland
30 June 2014
Following a series of high-level meetings between the Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the formal signing of the Joint Declaration on Cooperation (JDC) was held last week in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The JDC was signed by Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo on behalf of the Philippines while the EFTA side was represented by Mr. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Tradeof Iceland; Mr. Norbert Frick, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva; Ms. Monica Mæland, Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway; and Mr. Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of Switzerland.
“Today is a milestone in our bilateral relations. The JDC paves the way for enhanced relations between the PH and EFTA. The opportunities for both sides are tremendous—the Philippines could benefit from the technologies of the EFTA states while EFTA stands to benefit from the economic growth story of the Philippines. We welcome the signing of the JDC; there appears to be a bright future for this agreement hence the Philippines would like to pursue it with vigor,” Secretary Domingo cited in his opening statement.
Domingo likewise stated that the Philippines would like to explore ways to increase the market share of Philippine trade and investments from EFTA member countries in cadence with its ASEAN neighbors. Vietnam was EFTA’s largest import source in ASEAN with 30.26% market share based from EFTA’s total ASEAN imports from 2008-2012. Meanwhile, Singapore already has an existing free trade agreement (FTA) with EFTA while Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are in the process of negotiating an FTA.