President Rodrigo Duterte will pay his first state visit to South Korea in the second half of this year, South Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) said, adding that the two sides are discussing exact dates and schedules.

It will be his first visit to South Korea as the president of the Philippines, after visiting the country twice before as mayor of Davao. He will also be among the first to meet with the new president of South Korea following May 9 election.

The Blue House, currently without a tenant after President Park Geun-hye was removed from office following the Constitutional Court verdict upholding legislative impeachment motion, did not make any statement.

The two governments will likely discuss ways to enhance bilateral trade and jointly address Washington’s nationalistic and protectionist economic agenda under U.S. President Donald Trump accompanied by key government figures including ministers of trade and agriculture.

“The two countries will aggressively talk about ways to expand trade as Trump’s protectionist policies would hurt both of the export-driven economies,” said a source from the business circles.

During the visit, both countries’ institutions in charge of international trade such as KOIMA, the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization would sign memorandum of understandings (MOUs) to come up with ways to facilitate bilateral free trade.

“KOIMA will work hard to address trade imbalance with the Philippines,” said KOIMA Chairman Shin Myoung-jin.

The association invited Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Raul S. Hernandez on Thursday to discuss bilateral trade. Hernandez said that they agreed to invite South Korean entrepreneurs to the Philippines in May this year.

CTO/Kang Young-woon

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