Press Releases

European Commission landmark visit to the Philippines aims to bolster EU-Philippines Relations and advance Sustainable Trade and Investment

August 01, 2023

ECCP Online

Press Releases

Makati City, Philippines – The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), in partnership with the Makati Business Club (MBC), concluded a high-level business event on 31st July 2023 on the occasion of the official visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the Republic of the Philippines. 

The momentous occasion marked a historic milestone as President von der Leyen became the first European Commission President to ever pay an official visit to the Philippines in almost six decades of diplomatic relations.

The event, which was attended by distinguished guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, Philippines Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Philippine Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the European Union, H.E. Jaime Victor Ledda, Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Elena Algabre, and industry leaders, underscored the significance of sustainable trade and investment ties between the EU and the Philippines, as well as emphasized the role of green and digital technologies and initiatives in advancing economic growth and shared prosperity.

In his opening remarks, ECCP President Paulo Duarte formally thanked President von der Leyen for her visit, as well as expressed his appreciation for the European Commission's proposal to extend the validity of the EU GSP+ until 2027.

“Taking the Philippines to another level, the ECCP strongly advocates for the retention of the EU General Scheme of Preferences Plus as well as the recommencement of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations,” said Duarte. “Beyond that, we call for the timely and successful conclusion of the EU-Philippines Free Trade Agreement. Such a deal holds immense potential to spur trade and investment opportunities, improve diversification, increase competitiveness and economic openness, generate better employment prospects, as well as accelerate breakthroughs in innovation and technology,” he added.

The ECCP also lauded the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan, providing pathways for twin green and digital transitions, fostering an environment conducive to net-zero technologies and critical raw materials. In recognition of the importance of infrastructure development, the ECCP commends the EU’s Global Gateway program, which is expected to boost investments in digital innovation, green energy, transport, healthcare, and education.

“While challenges and uncertainties remain, we are encouraged to see how far we have come. Next year, the EU-Philippine bilateral ties will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. Yes, there is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are increasingly hopeful and confident that together, we will achieve a greener, more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable future for all,” Mr. Duarte concluded.

As part of the high-level business event, a panel discussion also took place, bringing together esteemed leaders and experts to delve into critical issues concerning trade, investment and sustainable development. The panelists included Mr. Pavit Ramachandran, Asian Development Bank Country Director Philippine Country Office, Southeast Asia Department; Mr. Paulo Duarte, President of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; and Mr. Edgar Chua, Chairman of the Makati Business Club. 

Facilitating the engaging discussion was Atty. Tony Abad, CEO of TradeAdvisors. The panelists shared valuable insights on the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transition, the significance of public-private collaboration, and the strategic role of sustainable practices in fostering economic growth and resilience.

The ECCP extends its heartfelt gratitude to the European Commission President H.E. Ursula von der Leyen for her momentous visit to the Republic of the Philippines. This historic occasion underscored the shared commitment to fostering sustainable trade and investment for a greener and more prosperous future.

The ECCP looks forward to further advancing this valuable partnership and working together towards a more sustainable and resilient global landscape.

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