The Philippines may have to eliminate tariffs covering 85 percent of the goods being traded with Hong Kong over a 10-year period under a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated between the latter and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
This was based on the presentation of the Department of Trade and Industry before the Tariff Commission, where it was also bared that four other Asean countries, namely Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand were expected to implement the same tariff elimination scheme. Indonesia and Vietnam were expected to eliminate tariffs for 70 percent of goods over a 10-year period, while Cambodia, Laos and Burma (Myanmar) were seen to eliminate duties for 65 percent of goods over a longer 15-year period.
Hong Kong, for its part, has committed to bind all its tariffs at zero under the proposed Asean-Hong Kong FTA (AHKFTA), which was expected to open more market opportunities for the Philippines.
According to the DTI, the country’s trade, economic and business relations with Hong Kong have remained generally stable over the past years. Philippine exports to Hong Kong have been steadily rising since 2013, reflecting an average growth rate of 18.7 percent over a three-year period, while imports have been growing at an average of 18.9 percent for the same period.
As of end 2015, Hong Kong was the Philippines’ fifth largest trading partner, accounting for some 6.3 percent or $8.1 billion of the country’s total trade globally. It is also the fifth largest market for Philippine merchandise exports after Japan, China, the United States and Singapore, but ranked 11th in terms of imports. The country’s merchandise trade with Hong Kong is comprised primarily of electrical machinery, equipment and parts (intermediates). Amy R. Remo
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