Philippine President calls for resuming FTA negotiations with EU

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25th May 2023 – (Manila) Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos has called for the resumption of negotiations for a Philippine-European Union (EU) free trade agreement (FTA), stating that his country is ready to comply with “vital international obligations” as determined by the European bloc. During a dinner with a delegation of European business leaders, Marcos emphasised that a bilateral FTA would be a win-win strategy for the Philippines and the EU, and called on European chambers of commerce in the Southeast Asian country to actively advocate to move the initiative to a favourable conclusion.

The Philippine government has been pursuing a bilateral FTA with the EU for several years, with the first round of negotiations taking place in June 2016 in the Philippines. However, talks have been stalled since then due to various issues.

The Philippine president‘s call for the resumption of negotiations comes as the country looks to strengthen its trade relations with the EU, which is one of its largest trading partners. In 2020, the Philippines’ total trade with the EU amounted to €13.1 billion (US$15.8 billion). The EU is also the country’s second-largest export market, with exports amounting to €8.3 billion (US$10 billion) in 2020.

A bilateral FTA would provide the Philippines with greater access to the EU market, which could boost the country’s exports of goods and services. It would also provide opportunities for EU companies to invest in the Philippines, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.

However, negotiating a bilateral FTA with the EU is a complex process that involves addressing various issues such as market access, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, and labor and environmental standards. These issues have been cited as reasons for the delay in negotiations.

Marcos acknowledged these challenges and emphasised the need for both sides to work together to address them. He expressed confidence that a bilateral FTA would be mutually beneficial and would strengthen the trade and economic relations between the Philippines and the EU.