EU free trade pact eyed still
‘What we are focusing on is an enhanced market access for Philippine goods and services to the EU as this will allow Philippine exporters to diversify their markets, reach a broader consumer base, and increase their export volumes’
Photograph COURTESY OF DTI Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual (right) emphasized to Swedish Minister of Trade and International Development Cooperation Johan Forssell (left), on 24 May that the Philippines is keen on pursuing the resumption of the negotiations for the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement as this will bring in new avenues for economic growth and cooperation between the Philippines and the European Union, one of the world’s large single markets.
A free-trade agreement with the European Union is still being pursued by the Philippine government, as the Trade Department is pushing the resumption of the negotiations for the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement or PH-EU FTA to bring in new avenues for economic growth and cooperation with one of the world’s largest single markets.
On Wednesday, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual stressed the PH-EU FTA would mean a reduction or elimination of tariffs imposed on goods entering the EU, and will enhance the competitiveness of local products, making them more attractive to European consumers and therefore enabling micro, small and medium enterprises, and Filipino exporters to earn a bigger profit.
“Ultimately, what we are focusing on is an enhanced market access for Philippine goods and services to the EU as this will allow exporters to diversify their markets, reach a broader consumer base, and increase their export volumes,” he said.
Facilitate FDIs from EU
Aside from the benefits to the export sector, the PH-EU FTA will facilitate the influx of foreign direct investments from EU countries, which the DTI sees as a huge contributor to knowledge transfer, job generation, and local industry development.
“On 18 May 2023, I met with the Swedish Minister of Trade and International Development Cooperation, His Excellency Johan Forssell, where he expressed support for the Philippines’ interest in the retention of our GSP status and our re-application to the EU-GSP+, as well as the resumption of the PH-EU FTA negotiations,” Pascual said.
According to Pascual, in his meeting with Forssell, the latter told him that the Swedish government is supportive of the Philippines’ endeavors as Sweden is a country that is pro-trade and pro-markets.
Further, Pascual relayed that Swedish companies are now open to partnering with Philippine companies and are interested in cooperating in terms of technology transfer to support industry development and innovation, and skills upgrading. He said he welcomed Forssell’s expression of support with great optimism.
Aside from the Swedish Minister, the European Union — ASEAN Business Council, also expressed support for the Philippines’ push for the resumption of negotiations last Monday during their meeting with Secretary Pascual.
The EU-ABC serves as the voice of European businesses in the ASEAN region. Pascual also highlighted that the organization’s support would provide the needed boost to the country’s intent.
“We are grateful for this support from the Swedish government and the EU-ABC, especially on the re-starting of the PH-EU FTA negotiations as we prepare to respond to the ongoing trend in economic growth and as we aim to make the Philippines a middle-income economy in the next few years,” he added.
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