Trade dep’t conducting EFTA market study for food, textile exports

THE Trade department is evaluating the export market for food and textiles in Switzerland and other countries within the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The market study will look at the demand for Philippine processed food, natural ingredients, and natural fiber and textile products, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a statement Tuesday.

Set to conclude in December, the study will also gather information on trade regulations and market access requirements for the EFTA countries — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

EFTA countries have a combined population of more than 14 million and around $1 trillion in GDP.

DTI is working with Swisscontact, an international development organization in charge of implementing the Swiss Import Promotion Programme. DTI signed a tripartite memorandum with Swisscontact and the Embassy of Switzerland after an online meeting in July.

“The results of this study will guide our exporters, especially the MSMEs (micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises) in the sectors of processed food, natural ingredients, and natural fibers, on how to effectively promote their products in these markets thus enabling them to maximize the benefits of our bilateral free trade agreement with EFTA,” DTI Export Marketing Bureau Director Senen M. Perlada said.

The Philippines under a free trade agreement in place starting 2018 has preferential treatment for trade in goods and services with EFTA. Philippine industrial and fisheries products can be exported duty-free to the region, while agriculture exports enjoy concessions.

The agreement covers trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, and trade and sustainable development.

Philippine exports to EFTA countries last year were valued at $433.81 million, while imports were valued at $384.19 million. The bulk of trade with EFTA was with Switzerland, with $417 million in exports to the country and $351.79 million in imports. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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