The scoping discussions for the Philippines-European Union (EU) free trade agreement (FTA) will start next month and are expected to be concluded by the end of the year, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
'We will start with the scoping discussion sometime in September and the target is to complete it before the end of the year so that the formal negotiation of the FTA can follow suit hopefully by the start of the new calendar 2024,' Pascual told reporters yesterday.
He said that it is high time for the Philippines and the EU to resume FTA negotiations with the country's positive trajectory towards reaching upper-middle income status.
'To maintain strong economic relations with the EU, it is important that we solidify our economic relations through the PH-EU FTA before the Philippines eventually loses its GSP+ status due to our continued economic growth,' Pascual said.
Under the leadership of President Marcos, the DTI along with our inter-agency negotiating team will closely work with counterparts from the European Commission to ensure the success of the scoping exercise this year. We look forward to the results of this exercise in support of our mutual objective to officially resume the PH-EU FTA negotiations at the most opportune time,'he said.
Pascual said an FTA would be a strategic platform for economic engagement of the EU in the Indo-Pacific and Philippines can well serve as its strategic trade partner.
The Philippines and the EU announced their intention to relaunch negotiations for the FTA with the commencement of the scoping process Monday, as EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is currently in the country.
'The Philippines is a key partner for us in the Indo-Pacific region, and with the launch of this scoping process we are paving the way to taking our partnership to the next level. Together, we will realize the full potential of our relationship, creating new opportunities for our companies and consumers while also supporting the green transition and fostering a just economy,' she said in a statement.
Despite proposals to extend the EU Commission's generalized scheme of preferences (GSP) regulation until 2027, Pascual has 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 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.
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