The Philippines and the European Union have resumed negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) to help lessen supply chain vulnerabilities and serve as a 'springboard' for broader technology cooperation.
President Marcos and visiting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the resumption of the talks for an FTA between the Philippines and the EU-stalled during the Duterte administration-following their meeting at Malacañang.
'During our meeting, we discussed the economic relations with particular focus on revitalizing trade between our two regions,' Marcos said in his speech in welcoming the conduct this year of the scoping exercises between the European Commission and the Philippines towards negotiations for an FTA.
'The Philippine government experts will work with the European Commission in achieving a bilateral FTA,' he said.
Von der Leyen said an FTA can raise trade relations between the Philippines and the EU to the next level, noting the bloc is the country's fourth largest trading partner, and its first foreign investor.
'But we can do so much more. So I'm very glad that we have decided to relaunch negotiations for (a) free trade agreement,' she said.
She said both sides would immediately get to work right 'on setting the right conditions so that we can get back to the negotiations.'
She said an FTA has huge potential for both the Philippines and the EU in terms of growth and in terms of jobs.
Von der Leyen said the world learned the hard way in not furthering free trade.
'We need to diversify our supply lines and make them resilient. This is a lesson we have learned and that is what we call 'derisking' our trade relations. An FTA is the basis for that. But it's also much more. An FTA can be a springboard for a new technology cooperation to modernize the broader economy,' she said.
The negotiations for the EU-Philippines FTA started in 2015. The last round of negotiations was held in Cebu City in 2017. Since then, negotiations have been put on hold.
The Philippines currently enjoys trade preferences under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences + or GSP+, a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance which grants duty-free access to the EU market for two-thirds of tariff lines.
Von der Leyen is in the country for a two-day visit upon the invitation of Marcos. The two leaders met during the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in Brussels, Belgium in December last year.
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