In Photo: Spearheading the information session on the Philippines-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement held at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) International Offices were (from left): Customs Operations Officer Gina German, DTI-Trade and Investment Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, Norwegian Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Larissa Kosanovic and Swiss Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Mathias Domenig.


THE Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) conducted an information session regarding the recently ratified Philippines-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (PHL-EFTA FTA) on August 30 at the DTI International Building in Makati.

The information session, under the Philippine Export Competitiveness Program (PECP), was attended by close to 50 participants, composed of exporters, business support organizations, officers from relevant government agencies and other export stakeholders.

The PECP is an EMB umbrella program that aims to boost the competitive stance of exporters and stakeholders through the conduct of information sessions, seminars, workshops and similar activities. For this session, guest speakers from EFTA state embassies in Manila, the Bureau of Customs, and DTI-EMB officers presented an overview of market opportunities for exporting to the EFTA states.

DTI-EMB Market Officer Gold Grospe started the series of discussions by giving a summary of what the PHL-EFTA FTA is all about and an economic background on EFTA member-states: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Deputy Head of Mission and Chargé d’ Affaires Mathias Domenig of the Embassy of Switzerland presented a briefer on the current trade relations of the Philippines and Switzerland. His presentation, entitled “Create growth and opportunities through improved market access and framework conditions,’’ tackled opportunities for Filipino exporters and how they can take advantage of Switzerland as an open market, multicultural society, with a high purchasing power. He also remarked Swiss buyers’ purchasing decision highly favors sustainability-oriented labels or “green’’ products.

Domenig ended his discussion about the complementarity of Philippine and Swiss economies, with both having machineries and mechanical appliances as common export products. Pharmaceuticals are the Swiss’s top traded products to the Philippines, while electrical machineries remain the Philippines’s top export product to Switzerland.

Deputy Head of Mission and Chargé d’ Affaires Larissa Kosanovic of the Royal Embassy of Norway presented a lecture, entitled “How to Export to EFTA Countries – Norway” which served as a briefer on Norwegian trade relations with the Philippines. According to statistics, machineries, mechanical appliances, and vehicles are some of Norway’s top imports which post a lot of potential for Philippine manufacturers.

For exporters, Kosanovic underscores that significant opportunities await Philippine-made grocery items, such as fruits and vegetables, clothing, footwear, furniture, ceramics and handicrafts and chemical products. She also talked about important Norwegian business culture and practices such as their high regard for quality, health and safety, traceability and reliability. Kosanovic ended her presentation by citing useful web site links for interested and would-be exporters to Norway.

Customs Operations Officer Gina German of the Bureau of Customs gave an overview on Rules of Origin for the PHL-EFTA FTA, and explained the concept of originating goods. She also discussed some examples on product-specific rules (PSRs) for Philippine exports to the EFTA states, and how to file an Origin Declaration for both approved and non-approved exporters.

German also tackled the Registered Exporters (REX) System, a new system for certification of origin of goods under the Generalized System of Preferences. This system requires exporters from a GSP beneficiary country like the Philippines to register with the appropriate authority—the BOC for the Philippines. Registered exporters are free to issue Certificates of Origin or a declaration called Statement of Origin.

German noted that there will soon be a Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) to be issued that will identify the guidelines on this new REX System for EU-GSP.

After a series of discussion on EFTA, EMB introduced Tradeline Philippines, an interactive business intelligence platform that provides stakeholders with an integrated export information system on trade statistics, market and product information, as well as supplier and buyer database. A presentation of the web site’s features was conducted by Senior Trade Industry Specialist Susette Manrique of the Knowledge Processing Division.

After the lectures, an open forum was conducted where participants asked questions and interacted with the resource speakers.