THE Philippines and South Korea signed an “early achievement package” on market access for goods at the ASEAN-Korea commemorative summit on Monday pending the possible conclusion of a free trade agreement between the two countries by the first half of 2020.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the package reports the progress of trade negotiations on banana, garments and auto parts exports from Philippines as well as pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and auto parts exports from South Korea.

The two sides had hoped to achieve substantial progress on the FTA by this month’s summit, but went with the progress report after apparently stalling on items like bananas, for which Philippine producers are seeking lower tariffs, and South Korean auto exports, for which Seoul is seeking greater access.

The package was signed by Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and South Korean Minister for Trade Yoo Myung-hee on Nov. 25 on the sidelines of the summit in Busan.

In a joint statement during the signing, the two trade ministers reiterated the importance of expanding trade. They agreed that the FTA should be mutually beneficial and should build upon the multilateral and regional trade agreements in which both countries are part.

They committed to concluding negotiations by the first half of 2020, agreeing that the early achievement package will be improved “through consideration of additional tariff lines and/or other mechanisms that will further facilitate trade and investment.”

Since the countries first began negotiations in June, DTI said that the negotiating team had concluded chapters on Competition, and “made significant headway” on the remaining six chapters: Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, Rules of Origin, Economic and Technical Cooperation, and Legal and Institutional Issues.

Mr. Lopez said that the Philippines’ goal is to improve market access for bananas and other tropical fruits.

“The FTA, once enforced, will be an important vehicle for improving the balance of trade with South Korea through enhanced trade flows, facilitating the movement of natural persons, and generating more investment opportunities and by extension, job generation possibilities,” he said.

Through the FTA, the Philippines hopes to increase its exports of agricultural products, auto parts, organic and natural products, and design-driven products like garments and furnishings.

Top exports to South Korea include bananas as well as electrical and semiconductor products. Top imports include petroleum and integrated circuits. — Jenina P. Ibañez