Business World - 11 February 2021
Manila to work with EU on free trade — Duterte
THE PHILIPPINES would keep working with the European Union (EU) on issues including free trade and investment, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Wednesday as he got a visit from the bloc’s ambassador-designate.
“The Philippines is ready to work constructively with the EU for the greater good of our peoples,” Mr. Duterte told Luc Véron, Ambassador-designate of the EU to the Philippines after accepting his credentials at the presidential palace, the latter said in a statement on Thursday.
The country would also work with the EU to mitigate climate change, boost humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, said the President, who earlier accused the EU of holding up the supply of coronavirus vaccines.
Mr. Duterte said the country would continue to “redefine, refine and reinforce” its ties with the EU in the face of new challenges.
“Our priority is to intensify trade and investment through a free trade agreement,” he said. “We wish to partner with the EU to protect and promote all rights of all, especially the human rights of migrant workers.”
Last week, Mr. Duterte accused the EU of holding up coronavirus supplies from other countries, citing the bloc’s export rule that requires drug makers to obtain permission first before shipping vaccines outside the region.
The rule was imposed after British-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca Plc failed to meet its scheduled vaccine delivery to the EU.
Mr. Duterrte said the issue was getting the supplies as big powers such as the EU not only buy up doses in bulk but have threatened to restrict exports of certain COVID-19 vaccines. “AstraZeneca was held hostage by the European Union,” he said early this month.