PH ready to resume PH-EU FTA negotiations – Pascual

Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual said Wednesday, May 24, that the Philippines is keen on pursuing the resumption of negotiations for free trade agreement with the EU citing support from the Sweden, which holds the current president of the EU Council, and the EU businessmen operating in the  region.

"Ultimately, what we are focusing on is an enhanced market access for Philippine goods and services to the EU as this will allow Philippine exporters to diversify their markets, reach a broader consumer base, and increase their export volumes," said Pascual.

PASCUAL SWEDEN.png Sweden Foreign Trade Minister Johan Forssell and Philippines Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual

Foreign Trade Minister Johan Forssell in a recent visit to the Philippines emphasized the need to resume the bilateral FTA negotiations. The EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) also followed it up with calls and strong support for the resumption of the FTA talks under the Marcos administration.

Pascual, who met with Forssell on May 18, said that Swedish Minister of Trade and International Development Cooperation expressed support for the Philippines' interest for the retention of its GSP status and re-application to the EU-GSP+, as well as the resumption of the PH-EU FTA negotiations.

Forssell said that the Swedish government is supportive of the Philippines' endeavors as Sweden is a country that is pro-trade and pro-markets. He also mentioned that Swedish companies are now open to partnering with Philippine companies and are interested in cooperating in terms of technology transfer to support industry development and innovation, and skills upgrading. Secretary Pascual welcomed his expression of support with great optimism.

Pascual said that  the conclusion of the PH-EU FTA talks will bring in new avenues for economic growth and cooperation between the Philippines and the EU—one of the world's largest single markets.

The reduction or elimination of tariffs imposed on Philippine goods entering the EU, which is part of the PH-EU FTA, will enhance the competitiveness of Philippine products, making them more attractive to European consumers and therefore enabling micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and Filipino exporters to earn more profit.

Aside from the benefits it brings to the export sector, the PH-EU FTA will facilitate the influx of foreign direct investments (FDIs) from EU countries, which the DTI sees as a huge contributor to knowledge transfer, job generation, and local industry development.

Aside from the Swedish Minister, the EU-ABC  also expressed support the push for the resumption of the negotiations during their meeting with Pascual on Monday, May 22.

EU-ABC serves as the voice of the European businesses in the ASEAN region. Pascual also highlighted that the organization's support would provide the needed boost to the country's intent.

"We are grateful for this support from the Swedish government and the EU-ABC, especially on the re-starting of the PH-EU FTA negotiations as we prepare to respond to the ongoing trend in economic growth and as we aim to make the Philippines a middle-income economy in the next few years," he added.
The DTI holds that through the PH-EU FTA, the country will be better positioned to be a regional hub for sustainable, connected, and innovative manufacturing and services industries.