TWO-WAY TRADE between the Philippines and Norway grew 120.90% in 2021, mainly in the form of imports from Norway, as both sides made greater use of a free trade agreement (FTA), according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

“Total trade between the Philippines and Norway recorded a growth rate of 19.53% and 120.90% in 2020 and 2021, respectively, despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” the DTI said in a statement on Thursday.

The DTI said exports to Norway increased by 36% and were valued at €7.8 million in 2021.

Imports from Norway rose 135% to €77.08 million in 2021.

Angelo Salvador M. Benedictos, Bureau of International Trade Relations director at the DTI, said during an event organized by the Philippines-Norway Business Council on March 30 that both sides took advantage of the Philippines’ 2018 trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a bloc of non-European Union counties which includes Norway.  

The other EFTA members are Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

“The Philippines foresees that these trade figures will continue to increase given the PH-EFTA FTA in place along with the promotion and cooperation activities to support the agreement,” the DTI said.

The trade deal was signed in 2016 and came into force on June 1, 2018, except for Iceland, where it took effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Under the trade deal, the Philippines enjoys duty-free market access for all industrial and fisheries tariff lines. The Philippines also enjoys tariff concessions on agricultural exports to EFTA like frozen tuna and mackerel, canned pineapple, crude coconut oil, and fresh or dried banana.

According to Mr. Benedictos, the top Philippine products exported to Norway in 2020 were cooked pasta, crisp savory food products, biscuits, food preparations, soups and broths, peanut butter, mineral or aerated water, prepared and preserved fruit, sugar confectionery products, and garments.

Norwegian products that benefitted from the FTA include chemicals, fertilizer, fisheries and fishery products, and plastics.

“Norwegian businesses should look into investment opportunities in the Philippines, particularly in the manufacturing sector, following the passage of three economic reform laws — amendments to the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), and the Public Service Act (PSA),” Mr. Benedictos said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave