PH, EU to begin trade talks
THE PHILIPPINES and the European Union (EU) agreed on Tuesday to start formal negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), paving the way for the country to forge a bilateral partnership with one of its largest trading and investment sources.
“We would like to lock in the duty-free market access we obtained through the EU generalized system of preferences plus (GSP+) last year and expand this preferential access to substantially all the traded products to EU,” Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said. GSP+ is a tariff scheme that allows Philippine products to enter EU states sans duties.
“With improved market access and greater opportunity for investments, supported by commitments on sustainable development, we are confident that this FTA will contribute to the country’s objective of creating decent jobs,” Domingo said.
Domingo reached the agreement with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. The first round of negotiations is expected to take place in the first half of 2016 in the Philippines.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, both the Philippines and EU agreed to 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 must go hand in hand with environmental protection and social development.
The EU is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade amounting to P738 billion. On the other hand, the Philippines is EU’s sixth largest trading partner in the Asean region and 44th worldwide.
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