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European firms push for resumption of EU-PH FTA talks

EU-ASEAN Business Council executive director Chris Humphrey (File photo)

MANILA – European businesses call for the resumption of negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the Philippines for a free trade agreement (FTA).

In a press conference in Makati City Monday, EU-ASEAN Business Council (ABC) executive director Chris Humphrey said it is critical for the Philippines to have the EU-Philippines FTA in place before it loses the benefits from the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

“You are going to lose GSP+ at some point, but you need to lose it for the right reason, and the right reason is your continued economic growth,” Humphrey said.

The EU provides the trade preferences to lower-middle income and lower income countries based on the classification of the World Bank, as well as to least developed countries.

“The important thing then is to make sure that the FTA is in place when that happens, so you can continue to trade better and smarter with Europe,” he added.

Humphrey said they welcome the recent visits of high-level officials from EU countries to the Philippines so that they can witness themselves the developments in the country.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala arrived in the country last month, while Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Trade Johan Forssell also visited Manila last week.

Forssell told reporters that Sweden backs the resumption of EU-Philippines FTA discussions.

“I think, this is a very good strategy to engage Europe to go out there to have dialogues with your counterparts but also then inviting them on various occasions to the Philippines to showcase to them what’s happening here on the ground,” Humphrey said.

He added the members of the European Parliament, particularly in Brussels, have the impression of the Philippines from the past three to four years.

The Philippines and EU launched exploratory talks for an FTA in 2013 and had two negotiations in 2016 and 2017. Since then, there were no follow up discussions for the free trade deal.

— Kris Crismundo (PNA)


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