The European Union and the Philippines announced the resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement on Monday, with Brussels saying the first round of talks should begin "later this year".

"The conditions are right to take our trade relations to the next level," EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said at a press conference in Brussels.

Talks began in 2015 under then-Philippine president Benigno Aquino but stalled two years later under his successor Rodrigo Duterte, whose deadly drug war strained diplomatic relations with the West and sparked an international probe.

The two sides announced their intention to reopen negotiations during a visit to Manila by EU chief Ursula von der Leyen last year.

The Southeast Asian nation, which depends heavily on trade with China, says it wants to expand its economic relations with other countries to achieve greater "resiliency".

The EU is the Philippines' fourth-largest trading partner and is one of the biggest investors in the country.

"The future of EU-Philippines economic relations hold immense promise," Philippines trade minister Alfredo Pascual said.

The EU is also looking to boost trades ties around the globe with countries that could help diversify its supplies of key raw materials needed in the transition to green technology.

The Philippines has major reserves of critical raw materials, including nickel, copper and chromite.

Duterte left power in June 2022 and was succeeded by Ferdinand Marcos.

Rights groups last year criticised the EU for turning a blind eye to ongoing abuses in the Philippines and called on the bloc to tie any trade deal to concrete human rights improvements in the country.