PH hopes to launch EU free trade negotiations 'very soon'

Philippines hopes to launch EU free trade negotiations ‘very soon’

/ 08:52 AM March 04, 2024

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FILE PHOTO: This photo shows an overview of the Philippines’ central business district in Makati City. Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo says on Monday, March 4, 2024, in Australia, that the Philippines hope to launch formal free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union “very soon.” INQUIRER FILES

MELBOURNE, Australia — The Philippines said it hopes to launch formal free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union (EU) “very soon,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told AFP in an interview Monday.

The Southeast Asian nation, which has already been in preliminary talks with the 27-nation bloc, aims to create “greater economic resiliency” by tightening partnerships with other countries, he said.


In October 2023, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the Philippines is nearing the conclusion of initial discussions for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, which is seen to bring greater market access and improved trade with the regional bloc.


“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 last year organized by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines in Pasay City.

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

READ: PH-EU free trade talks gain momentum

According to the European Commission (EC), the EU 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 EU 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: EU, Philippines to relaunch free trade negotiations


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. — With a report from Alden Monzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

TAGS: European Union, Free trade, Philippines

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