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Marcos renews pitch for EU free trade deal

Inquirer Net - 16 March 2024

Marcos renews pitch for EU free trade deal
By Julie M. Aurelio

President Marcos has sought the support of the Czech government and businessmen here for the resumption of negotiations for a free trade deal between the Philippines and the European Union (EU).

He said restarting talks for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the regional bloc will be a “big step” in elevating trade relations.

“We seek the support of the Czech Republic for the resumption of the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement negotiations,” he told Czech officials led by President Petr Pavel and businessmen at the Czech-Philippine Business Forum at the Czernin Palace here on Friday morning.

The Chief Executive made the pitch on the last day of his three-day state visit to the Czech Republic.

He made a similar appeal on Tuesday when he spoke at the Philippine-German Business Forum in Berlin, where he stressed Germany’s “vital” support for the resumption of the negotiations for the FTA with the European Union.

Negotiations began in December 2015 while the second negotiation happened in February 2017. However, discussions were placed on hold in July last year pending technical discussions on the free trade deal.

Pinoys in Czechia
The President’s schedule for Friday included a meeting with the Filipino community in Prague before flying home to Manila.

During Friday’s business forum in Prague, Mr. Marcos and Pavel also witnessed the signing of three deals with Czech business groups.

These are cooperation agreements between the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. and the Electrical and Electronic Association of the Czech Republic; the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines Inc. and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic; and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic.

“These agreements are not just documents. They are a commitment to unlocking the vast potential that lies in our partnership, especially in the semiconductor and information technology-business process management sectors,” Mr. Marcos said.

Mining investments
He also urged the Czech Republic to invest in the processing of critical minerals, like cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, and rare earths, noting that the Czech Republic’s expertise in minerals processing is “of particular interest to us.”

Critical minerals are important in the production of clean energy technologies, from wind turbines to electric cars. Annual trade in energy-related critical minerals went up to $378 billion from $53 billion in the last 20 years.

For his part, Pavel noted that he and Mr. Marcos had a “very open and frank discussion” on areas of cooperation for both countries.

He also expressed confidence that his country’s know-how and experience in aviation, transport, space and difference “can greatly contribute to the increase of the Philippines’ competitiveness and diversification.” INQ

 source: Inquirer Net