NORWAY and Switzerland see the potential for increased trade and investment opportunities after the Philippines ratified a free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), ambassadors from those countries said.

“This agreement is beneficial to both parties and will encourage and stimulate cross-border trade,” Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner said in a statement Thursday.

“FTAs achieve better results for our respective workplaces, our consumers and for the improvement of living standards than restrictive international collaboration,” he added.

Norwegian businesses hope to tap the agreement to expand activity in the areas of fisheries, seafaring, maritime transport, energy as well as financial services, he said.

Swiss Ambassador Andrea Reichlin said trade agreements “provide entrepreneurial incentives, as well as the highest political commitment to move forward in the best interest of (their) respective citizens and in managing global commerce.”

Swiss businesses, he said, are eager to offer services and innovative technologies in Clean Tech, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and precision engineering.

The other two EFTA members are Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Once the in force, all four members of EFTA and the Philippines are expected to lower tariffs on a list of commodities to be negotiated, while a broad range of goods and services will be granted free market access. — Janina C. Lim