Envoy pushes for EU-PH free trade agreement
European Union (EU) Ambassador Franz Jessen on Thursday called for speedy negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and the Philippines to create the “best possible enabling environment” for business.
“We need an ambitious FTA to make EU-Philippine trade grow stronger and to work together on market access,” he was quoted saying during a business event in Makati.
He said such an FTA could be a “powerful catalyst for change that will boost the competitiveness of the Philippine economy.”
The ambassador said pursuing an FTA “within the context of stronger EU-ASEAN relations” is also relevant as the Philippines takes on the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year.
According to a media release, Jessen described the economies of the Philippines and the EU as “going strong.”
While the Philippines has a strong projected gross domestic product growth, he said the EU “is the largest economy in the world with a GDP per head of €33 000 for its 500 million consumers.”
“It is the world’s largest trading block, the world’s largest trader of manufactured goods and services and ranks first in both inbound and outbound international investments,” he said.
In 2015, the EU-Philippine trade reached €13 billion, making the EU the fourth largest trading partner of the Philippines and its third largest export partner.
The EU also provided 37 percent of all new reported investments in the country in 2015.
“These changes are a reflection of the trends we are observing in the ASEAN level as the EU is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner and the largest source of FDI,” Jessen said.
However, he said the Philippines is lagging behind Asean member states when it comes to bilateral trade.
“The Philippines is still lagging behind, but has a lot of potential to catch up with its neighbors,” the release said. JE
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