“The purpose of the reception is to show the Philippines that we are open for business,” said the Swiss Ambassador. This month (November 2018), the first EFTA shipment arrived in the Philippines under the preferential treatment foreseen under the new trade agreement. To celebrate this milestone, Ambassadors of Switzerland and Norway hosted over 100 business players together with the Philippine government and members of the press.
“The FTA is finally having results, facilitating trade between our countries,” said Ambassador Reichlin.
EFTA, comprised of Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway, is the ninth largest market in merchandise trade and the fifth largest market in trade in services in the world.
“With the new FTA, authorities have substantially improved the economic ties of both the Philippines and EFTA states through elimination of trade barriers,” said Ambassador Jahnsen. “Now it is time for the private sector enter the stage and to benefit from it,” he added.
The new FTA offers many opportunities for Filipino exporters, giving them access to a market of 14 million people with a combined GDP of USD 1.1 trillion in 2017. “The FTA will generate new trade flows in both directions, and consumers will have a better selection of products, safe and innovative solutions and services and with the far-reaching elimination of custom tariffs goods should also become more affordable,” added Ambassador Reichlin.
During the reception, Norwegian and Swiss Ambassadors led the ceremonial exchange of Christmas baskets together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo. The baskets highlights anticipated products from Switzerland and Norway that will soon enter the Philippine market, free from customs duties, including Swiss cheese and Norwegian salmon among others. In return, Undersecretary Rodolfo presented a Christmas basket with Filipino products that will hopefully enter the EFTA market soon.
“Norway hopes to intensify trade in goods and services in a number of areas such as in fisheries, in the maritime and energy sectors as well as financial services for the years to come,” Ambassador Jahnsen said. “FTAs are like doors. They open up new opportunities. Now it’s up to the business communities in the EFTA countries and in the Philippines to take advantage of them,” Ambassador Reichlin concluded.