EU envoy to hasten FTA talks with PH

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Philippine News Agency, Philippines

EU envoy to hasten FTA talks with PH

By Kris Crismundo

18 October 2018

MANILA — European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen on Thursday said he wants to hasten discussion for the free trade deal with the country to improve the economic ties between the EU and the Philippines.

“A free trade agreement with the Philippines is clearly one of my objectives,” Jessen said in his speech during the EU-Philippines Business Summit in Parañaque City.

However, he mentioned that pursuing the FTA talks in the past years “was not always easy” because it was overshadowed by other issues, particularly “languages”. In the last two years, President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticizing the EU for issuing statements against his administration’s war on drugs.

FTA negotiations between the EU and the Philippines have been stalled for around 20 months.

The first round of formal discussions for the EU-PH FTA kicked off in Brussels in May 2016 and the second round was held in Cebu City in February 2017.

“FTA is something that will bring us closer together,” the EU envoy stressed.

“[W]e need, for example, the economic and trade group to meet so that they can sit down and see what can we do in the EU side to improve trade and investment in the Philippines, and vice versa. That would be the prospect, and we need to take quite fast,” said Jessen, adding that both sides need to move the negotiations “faster than other countries in the region”.

He mentioned that the two-way trade in goods between the EU and the Philippines reached 14 billion euros in 2017.

The EU delegation here reported that merchandise trade between the 28 member states of EU and the Philippines grew by 11 percent from 2016.

Jessen attributed this growth to the increased utilization rate of Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). Philippine exports to EU improved by 13 percent year-on-year amounting to 7.6 billion euros in 2017.

Philippine exports to EU also posted the highest value in 2017 for the past five years. In 2013, the country exported 5.1 billion euros; 5.7 billion euros in 2014; 7 billion euros in 2015; and 6.7 billion euros in 2016.

The country’s top exports to EU last year were electrical machinery and equipment; machinery and mechanical equipment; and animal or vegetable fats and oils, among others. (PNA)

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