PH-EU free trade talks gain momentum | Inquirer Business

PH-EU free trade talks gain momentum

/ 06:38 AM October 27, 2023

MANILA  -The Philippines is nearing the conclusion of initial discussions for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union, signaling that formal discussions could begin on the bilateral agreement that is seen bringing greater market access and improved trade with the regional bloc.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual on Wednesday said this as part of his speech about the government’s sustainability plans, where he also tackled plans to pursue strategic partnerships with other countries.

“We are about to conclude the scoping discussions as a precursor to resuming our negotiations for an FTA with the European Union,” Pascual said during a forum organized by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines in Pasay.


However, he did not elaborate how close they were in finishing discussions on the scope of the proposed FTA.


Despite this, Pascual had earlier noted back in August that they were looking to finish it within the year so that they could move on to the next step of the negotiations.

READ: Philippines, EU to resume free trade talks this year

The trade official had also said that the technical experts from both sides would discuss a wide range of topics, including market access for goods and services, investment liberalization, trade and sustainable development, government procurement and dispute settlement, among others.

Big trading partner

According to the European Commission (EC), the European Union was the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner among regional blocs in 2022, with two-way trade totaling 18.4 billion euros (about P1.11 trillion) during that year.

The EC said that the European Union was also one of the largest investors in the Philippines, with the bloc’s foreign direct investment reaching 13.7 billion euros (about P824.4 billion) in 2021.

READ:  PH gets fresh P73-B investment leads from EU trade mission


Further, the Philippines is currently a beneficiary of the regional bloc’s preferential trading scheme for developing countries, the EU GSP Plus, under which import duties for over 6,000 Philippine goods are zero-rated until the end of 2023.

The EC is proposing to extend the current EU GSP Plus by four years, a recommendation that has yet to be decided on by the European Parliament and the European Council.

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Philippine exports which benefit from the EU GSP Plus include crude coconut oil, prepared or preserved tuna and pineapple, vacuum cleaners, spectacle lenses, new pneumatic tires of rubber, relays for voltage, bicycles and other cycles, footwear and industrial fatty alcohol. INQ

TAGS: European Union, FTA, Philippines

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