Manila, Seoul renew economic commitment

Published November 23, 2020, 3:32 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Philippines is planning to tap South Korea for additional funding support for coronavirus response as well as development financing and push for the advancement of the two nation’s free trade negotiations, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Following a recent lunch meeting between Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man, the DOF said that Seoul is “always ready” assist the Philippines.

According to the DOF, Dominguez “expressed appreciation for South Korea’s plan to further expand its investments in the Philippines” and “step up the pace of the negotiations on the proposed Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).”

Likewise, South Korea has expressed its willingness to extend funding support to the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project in Western Visayas, the DOF quoted Dominguez as saying.

During the meeting, DOF said that Dominguez disclosed the Philippines’ “intent” to advance the processing of loans and grants with Korea in the pipeline, such as a possible additional loan for COVID-19 response and other financing supports.

Dominguez also sought South Korea’s support in establishing a framework agreement that will provide a basis to process tied financing intended for the procurement of military equipment for the Department of National Defense, the DOF said.

 “Ambassador Han, for his part, said Korea is always ready to assist the Philippines in implementing its development agenda and in extending support during emergencies such as the COVID-19 outbreak, given the strong ties and enduring friendship between the two countries,” DOF said.

On investments, the DOF quoted Han as saying that the two nations can explore the manufacturing of environment-friendly vehicles, “considering that the Philippines is one of the world’s biggest producers of nickel, which is a key component in making electric car batteries.” 

The two officials also discussed the FTA between Manila and Seoul, which is already in the final stages of negotiations.

 “Secretary Dominguez said the Philippines is 100-percent behind this FTA as he underscored the Philippines’ strategic location in expanding Korea’s trade footprint in the $2.6-trillion ASEAN market,” the DOF said.

Korea is the Philippines’ fifth largest provider of Official Development Assistance, with loan and grant commitments amounting to around $679.65 million or 2.59 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio as of June 2020.