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Phl seeks resumption of FTA Negotiations with EU

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The Philippines through the Department of Trade and Industry met with members of the European Union (EU) – ASEAN Business Council (ABC) on Monday at Dusit Thani Hotel.

No less than Trade Secretary Fred Pascual who led the meeting emphasized that the Philippines is keen on pursuing the resumption of negotiations concerning the Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Pascual stressed a successful negotiation of the FTA will provide the following benefits: (1) Help the Philippines secure additional duty-free market access beyond those covered by the EU GSP+ scheme; (2) Provide a conducive framework for attracting greater investments from the EU; and (3) Will put the Philippines at par with other ASEAN countries who are aggressively pursuing FTAs with the EU.

“I’d like to reemphasize our growth strategy centered around enhancing trade and investment. Our objective is to foster job creation and poverty reduction by uplifting the global position of our export sectors and driving investments into strategic areas,” Secretary Pascual pointed out in his opening message.

Likewise, the Trade Secretary added, “The EU GSP+ coverage of the Philippines will expire at the end of this year, and our governments are currently discussing its renewal. Since 2014, the EU-GSP+ has been instrumental in enabling the Philippines to enjoy broader market access and has significantly boosted our exports.”

During the meeting, members of the EU-ABC also took the opportunity to inquire on the current programs and policies of the DTI to attract foreign investments where Secretary Pascual said that the Philippines is currently taking a holistic approach that considers the role of macroeconomy, trade, technology, and sectoral policies. This will enable the country to have a modernized and integrated industrial capacity, strengthen Philippine participation in global value chains, and contribute to socioeconomic development.

Further, he shared that the Philippines is undertaking efforts to promote and help industries in retooling, reskilling, and upskilling the country’s human resource capital to enable industries to move toward higher value-adding production systems and processes. He also highlighted the government’s efforts to facilitate international partnerships and collaborations, one of which is through the recently-ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement that will encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, as it creates a stable and predictable business environment.

The EU-ABC serves as the primary voice of the European businesses in the ASEAN region. It consists of nine (9) European Chambers of Commerce in Southeast Asia and major European MNCs across multiple sectors such as manufacturing, services, healthcare, and logistics among others. The meeting was also attended by the EU-ABC Chairman Mr. Martin Hayes, Vice Chairman Jens Ruebbert, Executive Director Chris Humphrey, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Executive Director Florian Gottein, and other representatives from various European businesses.

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