MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is lagging behind other Asean countries in forging free trade agreements (FTAs) with total of 12, while Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia have 14, 14 and 17, respectively.
Seven of the Philippines' FTAs have already entered into force, while one is under negotiation and four are in the exploratory stage.
Indonesia has concluded eight FTAs. It is currently negotiating three free trade deals and is evaluating the feasibility of six planned FTAs.
Vietnam and Brunei, on the other hand, are implementing seven and eight free trade agreements, respectively.
These countries are conducting exploratory talks with four prospective FTA partners.
Meanwhile, Asia' least developed economies such as Bangladesh (6), Sri Lanka (8), Cambodia (9), Myanmar (10) have fewer FTAs.
More countries are looking to freer trade to sustain domestic growth and rev up the fragile global economy by initiating free trade deals.
As of January 2011, the Asian Development Bank has identified 238 bilateral and plurilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) in Asia and the Pacific, an enormous leap from 54 signed in 2000. …