EU, Philippines to relaunch free trade negotiations | Inquirer Business
Stalled under Duterte admin

EU, Philippines to relaunch free trade negotiations

/ 01:52 PM July 31, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the European Union will resume negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with their teams to immediately start setting the right conditions for the talks, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen, after her meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday, said that while the European Union (EU) is already the Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner, the partnership can be elevated with the FTA.

“We share so many values and interests. We both want to work toward strengthening our democracies. We believe in the international rules-based order, and we believe in the need to promote and to defend it. So it makes sense to strengthen our ties across the board, and we discover, discussed several ways to do so.  First, by taking our trade relations to the next level,” she said during the delivery of her and Marcos’ joint press statement.


“The European Union is already your fourth largest trading partner, and we are the first foreign investor, but we can do so much more.  So I’m very glad that we have decided to relaunch negotiations for free trade agreement, our teams will get to work right now on setting the right conditions so that we can get back to the negotiations,” she added.


The EC president assured the Philippine government that the FTA between the two countries would be beneficial to both sides, as it would create jobs and generate growth.

“A free trade agreement has huge potential for both of us in terms of growth and in terms of jobs.  Whether it is on the European continent, or here in Southeast Asia, we have all learned the hard way, the cost of economic dependencies, we need to diversify our supply lines and make them resilient,” von der Leyen noted.

“And this is a lesson we have learned and that is what we call ‘derisking’ our trade relations.  An FTA is the basis for that, but it’s also much more.  An FTA can be a springboard for a new technology cooperation to modernize the broader economy,” she added.

The prospective EU-Philippine FTA will possibly cover the following areas:

  • Trade in Goods
  • Rules of Origin
  • Customs and Trade Facilitation
  • Trade in Services
  • Investments
  • Government Procurement
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Competition
  • Trade and Sustainable Development
  • Legal and Institutional Issues

FTA talks between the EU and the Philippines began in 2015 under then President Benigno Aquino but stalled two years later under his successor Rodrigo Duterte, whose deadly drug war strained diplomatic relations with the West and sparked an international probe.

READ: EU-Philippine free trade agreement still on the table


The delegation did not explicitly explain why there was no progress on the FTA negotiations during Duterte’s term.  However, in February 2022, the European Parliament issued a resolution underscoring the human rights situation in the Philippines and warning the Philippines of the withdrawal of its  trade privileges with the EU.

READ: EU lawmakers warn PH of losing trade perks due to rights record

Marcos — who assured the public and several foreign ambassadors that the drug war would be implemented on a human rights scope — last May called for the resumption of the FTA negotiations.

Von der Leyen, the first EC president to visit the country, is in the Philippines for a two-day official visit.  After meeting with Marcos, the EC president is expected to meet with House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, and other business leaders in a high-level meeting.

Earlier, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga and European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron signed an agreement that would facilitate a Team Europe Initiative on Green Economy, which would amount to €466 million or P28.12 billion.

-with a report from AFP


EU leader arrives Sunday amid rebalance in Europe

Bongbong Marcos calls for resumption of negotiations for bilateral PH-EU trade agreement

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TAGS: European Union, free trade agreement, negotiations, Philippines

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