Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (

The South Korean market will soon see more Philippine products with the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) in November, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Lopez said representatives from the Philippines and South Korea were working on the completion of the basic terms of the FTA by September.

Manila’s target is to enjoy a lower 5-percent tariff on bananas and “as a reciprocity, in some products, we give 5-percent tariff on the fruits – strawberry, pears, para mababa na ang bigay natin na tariffs (so we can give lower tariffs).”

Lopez said the Philippines’ wanted to cut its trade deficit with South Korea. Philippine imports from South Korea reached $12.037 billion last year, while exports stood at only $3.569 billion.

“The target [signing will be in] November. That should be the highlight of the (President Rodrigo Duterte’s) visit, that there is a new FTA,” he said.

The Philippines is the biggest supplier of bananas and pineapples to Korea. The trade secretary is encouraging Korean businessmen to look at exporting canned tuna, chicken and dried fruits.

“We are also pushing for organic and natural products like food and healthcare products as well as design-driven products like furniture, garments and chemicals … as well are electronic parts and components and software and game development,” he said. (Jojo Mangahis, PNA)