May 29, 2023
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. thought it was the right time for the Philippines and the European Union (EU) to solidify their long-standing and historically beneficial trade relations through a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
Marcos said this during the 2023 European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the European Union (EU) - Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business Council (EU-ABC) gala dinner in Makati City on Thursday evening, May 25.
In his speech, the President said a bilateral FTA would be a "win-win strategy" for both the Philippines and the EU.
"It promises to achieve mutually beneficial economic goals while maintaining consistency with the EU's core ideals of sustainable development and environment protection, as well as with EU's Indo-Pacific strategy," he said.
With this, Marcos encouraged members of the EU-ABC and the ECCP to actively advocate for the resumption of negotiations for a bilateral FTA and to strive for fair treatment and beneficial reciprocity.
"As credible voices of the European business community in the Philippines and the region, the EU-ABC and ECCP can help move this thing forward all the way to a favorable conclusion," he said.
"If and when that happens, it could very well be the capstone of all efforts to strengthen Philippine and EU relations over the course of the next decades," he added.
The exploratory FTA scoping meetings between the Philippines and the EU started in 2013. It included discussions on the objectives, key principles, and scope of the FTA negotiations that were concluded during a meeting between trade ministers in Brussels in October 2015.
The launch of the FTA negotiations was subsequently announced by both sides three months later. The first round of FTA negotiations was held in May in Brussels, Belgium, while the second round of negotiations was held in February 2017 in Cebu.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the following are the proposed chapters of the PH-EU FTA:
The EU was the Philippines’ fifth-largest trading partner in 2020. On its website, the DTI said the Philippines actively engages the EU in an FTA to permanently secure additional duty-free market access beyond those covered under the GSP+ scheme.
In addition, the Philippines seeks to provide a conducive framework for attracting greater investments from the EU and be at par with other ASEAN member states who are aggressively pursuing FTAs with the EU.
According to Malacañang, the gala dinner was a side event of the Business Dialogue that serves as a venue to discuss different ways of championing the long-standing relations between the Philippines and Europe.
The 10th European-Philippine Business Dialogue this year featured a series of high-level discussions anchored on key strategies that maximize the Philippines’ competitive advantages as an investment destination in the ASEAN region.
The event gathered key business leaders, government officials, and partners to share insights on the business and investment climate in the country geared toward forging a strong economic partnership with the EU.