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EFTA, Philippines Hold Third Round Of FTA Talks

The member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) held a third round of free trade negotiations with the Philippines from September 21 to 25, 2015, according to a statement from EFTA.

Working groups convened to discuss all areas under negotiation, including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition, trade and sustainable development, legal and institutional issues, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade remedies, rules of origin and trade facilitation.

EFTA said that the meetings were held in a positive and efficient atmosphere, and good progress was achieved in several areas.

The first and second rounds of negotiations took place in March and July, 2015, respectively. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in November 2015.

Total commodity trade between the EFTA states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – and the Philippines has grown steadily over the last years, with an increase of just over four percent from 2010 to 2014 and total trade in 2014 amounting to around USD636m. The stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Philippines' economy originating from the EFTA States has almost tripled in the last ten years. In 2012, the outward stock of EFTA FDI in the Philippines stood at approximately USD4bn.

It is hoped that a free trade deal, to remove tax and non-tax barriers to trade and investment, will significantly boost economic flows between the bloc and the Philippines.

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