The government should already start negotiations on the free trade agreement with the European Union (EU), Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said Tuesday.
In a press briefing in Malacañan Palace, Pascual said he is scheduled to fly out to Brussels, Belgium toward the end of June to follow up on the negotiations on the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) and also the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.
“Because you know that GSP+ is available to the Philippines now, given that the Philippines is a low-middle income country. When the Philippines becomes an upper middle income country, we will no longer be eligible for GSP+,” he said.
“So, that was also mentioned to me when parliamentarians from the EU visited my office. That’s why I said, so we need to start negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. So, that is the talk and we will see,” Pascual said. Vince Lopez
The EU’s GSP+ gives developing countries a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance.
According to Pascual, the Philippines has the support from European businesses that are operating in the Philippines and from some members of EU’s parliament.
Last month, the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) and the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to push for the resumption of the negotiations for a bilateral Philippine-EU FTA.
Speaking during the EU-ABC Annual General Meeting Gala Dinner in Makati City, Mr. Marcos said he believes the timing and conditions are now ripe for both sides to solidify their long-standing and historically beneficial trade relations through a bilateral Philippine-EU FTA.
A bilateral FTA will be a win-win strategy for both the Philippines and the EU, the President pointed out, adding it also promises to achieve mutually beneficial economic goals, while maintaining the EU’s consistency with its core ideals and its Indo-Pacific region strategy.
Earlier, Mr. Marcos approved the proposed Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023 to 2028 aimed at capitalizing on export growth opportunities amid the current market trends, developing local industries, and making the country a global player in terms of exports (see related story on Business, page B1 — Editors). Vince Lopez