Philippines preparing for free trade talks with EU
Study to determine FTA impact on local industriesBy Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines is getting ready to start a new round of talks with the European Union on a prospective bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), according to the country’s chief trade negotiator.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a state-owned think tank, is completing a study on the impact of a trade pact with the EU on various Philippine industries and sectors.
“We will finalize the PIDS study by August. There have been initial presentations. Policy experts are finalizing their studies. After that we will have to hold multisectoral consultations nationwide,” said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., who heads the agency’s industry development and trade policy unit.
Fresh talks with the EU may start within the third quarter, Cristobal said.
The initial round of consultations held last year tackled general terms. “For the second round, we will at least have the study on the potential benefits and impact of the FTA between the Philippines and the EU,” Cristobal said.
PIDS president Josef T. Yap said in an e-mail that the state think tank had been consolidating “various sectoral studies” about the benefits and impact of the proposed deal on Philippine industries. This helps narrow down the industry sectors, potentially sensitive issues, policies, laws and government procedures that may affect the FTA terms and vice versa.
The landmark Partnership Cooperation Agreement between the two countries, which would serve as the framework for further negotiations for the FTA, has been signed, according to Cristobal. The EU signs FTAs only with countries with whom it has a PCA.
According to EU data, the region is the fifth-largest supplier of Philippine imports, accounting for 8 percent in 2005.
The EU-Philippines trade balance since the Asian economic crisis has been in favor of the Philippines—2.9 billion euro, or 3.6 percent of GDP in 2005, according to the website of the EU Delegation to Manila.
The report said bilateral relations with the Philippines has been generally “good” with only a limited range of trade “irritants” regarding sanitary and phytosanitary standards, as well as concerns on intellectual property rights infringement.
The report also noted that the Philippine economy has become more open over the years and that Manila has shown interest in the EU-Asean FTA.
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