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Philippines eyes talks for EU–FTA

Philstar Global - 12 July 2023

Philippines eyes talks for EU–FTA
By Catherine Talavera

The Philippines expects to begin discussions for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) this year, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

“My expectation is that there will be scoping discussions within the year based on what my counterparts have expressed,” Pascual told reporters.

As part of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s three-week investment roadshow in Europe from June 18 to July 6, Pascual earlier met with European Commission Vice President/Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovski in Brussels, Belgium, where he continued to push for the resumption of negotiations for a Philippines-EU FTA.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said having scoping discussions is a substantial progress when it comes to FTA negotiations.

He said the scoping discussions will be very timely as the previous scoping studies were held way back in 2015.

Based on the DTI’s website, the launch of Philippines-EU FTA negotiation was announced in December 2015. The first round of negotiations was held on May 23 to 27 in Brussels, Belgium, while the second round of negotiations was held on Feb. 13 to 17 in Cebu.

“So many things have happened since the last negotiating rounds and also the last scoping,” Rodolfo said.

He cited the electric vehicles, critical minerals, as well as renewable energy as some of the important topics today that have not been talked about in the previous scoping.

Despite proposals to extend the EU Commission’s generalized scheme of preferences (GSP) regulation until 2027, Pascual stressed the importance of starting work towards an FTA as the country will not be eligible for the GSP scheme once it becomes an upper middle income country.

Pascual earlier emphasized the need to resume the PH-EU FTA negotiations, citing the demand of the business sector such as the EU-ASEAN Business Council (ABC), European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) and other industry associations.

 source: Philstar Global