Philippines, EU to start negotiations on free trade agreement
The Philippines and the European Union (EU) have agreed to start negotiations on a free trade agreement, which covers broad range of trade issues.
Outgoing Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on Tuesday agreed to start talks between the Philippines and the 28-member states of the EU.
The negotiations will cover a broad range of issues, including elimination of customs duties and other barriers to trade, services and investment, access to public procurement markets, as well as additional disciplines in the area of competition and protection of intellectual property rights.
The prospective agreement will also include a comprehensive chapter that will ensure that closer economic relations between the EU and the Philippines go hand in hand with environmental protection and social development.
“Launching negotiations with the Philippines will represent an important milestone in the EU-Philippine relations and a further evidence of the EU’s commitment to Southeast Asia’, said Malmström in a statement.
“The Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region in the recent years. We need to make sure our companies enjoy right conditions to seize the great potential of that market of 100 million consumers,” Malmström added.
The EU official said the first round of negotiations is expected to take place in the first half of 2016 in the Philippines. The EU-Philippines relation is currently governed by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in July 2012.
The Philippines is the fifth country of the Association of South East Asia (Asean) to start negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with the EU.
Negotiations for a region-to-region FTA with Asean were launched in 2007 but paused in 2009 to give way to a bilateral format of negotiation.
Asean ranks as the 8th economy in the world and the EU’s 3rd largest trading partner outside Europe, after the United States and China. IDL
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