PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday pushed for the resumption of negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Union (EU), saying such a bilateral deal will be a “win-win strategy” for both sides.
In his speech during the Asean-EU gala dinner in Makati City, the President said that the timing and conditions “are now quite ripe for us to solidify the long- standing and historically beneficial trade relations: through a bilateral Philippine-EU Free Trade Agreement.”
“A bilateral FTA will be a win-win strategy for both the Philippines and the EU. It promises to achieve mutually beneficial economic goals, while maintaining consistency with the EU’s core ideals of sustainable development and environment protection, as well as with EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Marcos said.
“Hence, I take this opportunity to call upon our friends from the EU-ABC (Asean Business Council) and ECCP (European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines) to actively advocate for the resumption of negotiations for this purpose, as well as to strive for fair treatment and more beneficial reciprocity,” he added.
If and when that happens, Marcos said it “could very well be the capstone of all efforts to strengthen Philippine and EU relations over the course of the next decades.”
”So, join me as I greet you all once again and welcome you to the Philippines to once again express my gratitude for [the] interest that you continue to show in the Philippines,” the President said.
Marcos said there was “so much potential in terms of growth, in terms of expanding the roles of the EU in Asean and of course in the Philippines.”
FTA negotiations commenced in 2016, with the last round of negotiations conducted in Cebu City in 2017.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the exploratory scoping meetings between the Philippines and EU started in 2013.
The DTI said the Philippines’ strategic objectives in engaging the EU in a free trade agreement include securing additional duty-free market access beyond those covered under the GSP+ scheme and on a permanent basis; providing a conducive framework for attracting greater investments from the EU; and being at par with other Asean member states who are aggressively pursuing free trade agreements with the EU.
Among the proposed chapters of the Philippines and EU free trade agreement are trade in goods, rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation, trade in services, investments, government procurement, intellectual property rights, competition, trade and sustainable development, and legal and institutional issues.
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Author: Catherine S. Valente