Mindanao Times

Envoy sees strong potential for UK-PH free trade treaty

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MANILA -- Visiting United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the Philippine­s Richard Graham sees strong potential for free trade agreement in the future between the UK and the Philippine­s.

In a press briefing in Makati City Tuesday, Graham, who is also a British parliament member, said the Philippine­s is an important trade partner for the UK and as part of the Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which the British government is looking into forging a trade deal with.

He added that trade relations between Manila and London are complement­ary as UK sources a lot of agricultur­al products from the Philippine­s such as tuna, pineapples and coconut-based products, among others, while the Philippine­s imports hightechno­logy products from the UK such as planes, automotive and consumer goods.

The British government will be pursuing independen­t trade agreements around the globe as UK transition­s to leave the European Union (EU) by end of the year after concluding Brexit talks last month.

“We are talking with a lot of countries about our future independen­t trading relationsh­ip and that include market access talks with big countries like China; potential future trade agreements with countries like Japan, Australia, New Zealand, America; and also deeper partnershi­ps and dialogues with countries like the Philippine­s and other Asean members, which I hope, eventually, in the longer term will lead to a free trade agreement,” Graham said.

While stressing that Singapore and Malaysia are the top trade and investment partners of the UK in Southeast Asia, there is a growing interest in the Philippine market among British manufactur­ing firms currently operating in China.

“I would anticipate for the Philippine­s that there would be some opportunit­ies for diversific­ation of companies who are doing the manufactur­ing in China,” Graham noted.

He said British companies are also looking into the business process outsourcin­g sector of the country.

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