Business Mirror | 30 April 2008
European Union prods RP on drafting PCA
By: Estrella Torres
The European Union (EU) has urged the Philippines to start negotiations for the partnership cooperation agreement (PCA), a prerequisite deal for Manila to qualify in the comprehensive free-trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Gabriel Munuera Vinals, head of the economic, political and trade affairs of the Delegation of the European Commission in the Philippines, said other Asean economies are now pressing forward with the PCA negotiations-with Indonesia in an advance stage, while Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia in the early stages of discussions.
He said the fourth joint committee meeting for the EU-Asean free-trade agreement held in Bangkok from April 16 to 18 had already discussed some of the areas to be included in the deal.
“With regard to the PCA with the Philippines, we have been discussing this already with the Philippine government. But we would like to start [formal] negotiations soon,” said Vinals at the sidelines of the launch of the Europe Month on Thursday in Makati City.
The EU proposal for the PCA covers measures that promote European core values like human rights, rule of law and democracy. The agreement provides for cooperation on counterterrorism, migration and ratification of human- rights treaties, specifically the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Thus, the EU has excluded Burma from the free-trade agreement because of the ruling military junta’s record of repression against its citizens.
Vinals said the fifth joint committee meeting that involves trade experts from the EU and Asean economies will be held in the Philippines in late June this year; and the EU hopes that by that time, formal negotiations with Manila for the PCA would have started.
Vinals said the EU expects to meet its target for the FTA with Asean in two years. “The FTA with Asean is ambitious and comprehensive. The EU would hope to be able to conclude the agreement with Asean in 2009.”