TRADE RELATIONS are not expected to be affected with the imminent change in government, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Trade Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty said in a webinar hosted by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines on Wednesday that free trade agreements (FTAs) that include the Philippines are locked in and will not be altered by who is in charge.

“Our economy is well integrated in the global economy. One big factor that fortifies this integration to the global economy is our free trade agreements. In other words, take note (that) these FTAs are international agreements. Regardless of the administration, the fact remains that we are working under a rules-based set-up,” Mr. Gepty said.

“Our businesses, our investors are well mindful of this and this is the primary reason why countries are very active in pushing for a very comprehensive economic partnership agreement, not just covering market access but also rules. Whenever there are changes, let’s say in administration, they know that the direction would still be consistent,” he added.

The government is due to step down on June 30. Former Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is currently leading the partial unofficial count with over 31 million votes, according to the Commission on Elections.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gepty said that the DTI has been pursuing negotiations for planned upgrades to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area.

He said that with the FTA, the Philippines is pushing to become one of the manufacturing hubs in the region, a leading innovation hub, and a training and education hub.

“With the strengthening of our international trade relations, we basically ensure smooth flow of goods and services while maintaining a conducive environment for our businesses and investors. Through FTAs, tariff rates have been liberalized, which in effect lowers the prices of goods which includes raw materials, intermediate goods, and final goods,” Mr. Gepty said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave