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FTAs raise stakes for exportable farm goods

Former agriculture trade negotiator Segfredo R. Serrano is calling for a shift to high-value crop exports and data-based negotiations as the Philippines enters into more trade agreements.

Serrano, who retired in April after 21 years of service at the Department of Agriculture (DA), represented the Philippine Task Force World Trade Organization Agriculture Renegotiations (TF-WAR).

The Philippines this year is taking on new free trade agreements (FTAs), as it looks to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) among Southeast Asian countries and their major trade partners. The Philippines is also in negotiations with South Korea, and may begin talks for a trade agreement with the United States.

The particular details on the products that are at risk or could find more opportunities for export are not known yet — although the Philippines has been negotiating for reduced tariffs on banana exports to South Korea.

In January, Serrano told that he supports the agreement. He noted that South Korea is a rich market for Philippine exports, but it imposes tariffs twice the level of Japan’s. As the Philippines moves forward with RCEP, he said that the country must boost its ability to supply exports.

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