Marcos hopes PH-EU free trade pact talks finalized by 2027

By Darryl John Esguerra

May 7, 2024, 8:38 am

<p>President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. <em>(Presidential Communications Office File Photo)</em></p>

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (Presidential Communications Office File Photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is hoping that the negotiations for the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement (PH-EU FTA) will be finalized by 2027 to boost two-way trade and investment.

Marcos, in a message read by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin for the 2024 European-Philippines Business Dialogue and European Investors’ Night in Makati City on Monday evening, said the PH-EU FTA is a “crucial step in enhancing the trade partnership between the Philippines and the EU.”

“We look forward to negotiations being finalized by 2027 and to elevating trade and investment flows through a comprehensive agreement that includes advanced provisions for digital trade and intellectual property rights," Marcos said, as quoted by a Presidential Communications Office (PCO news release.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and European Commission (EC) Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis jointly announced last month the resumption of formal negotiations for the PH-EU FTA, which is expected to boost two-way trade by 6 billion euros (around PHP369.7 billion).

FTA talks were put on hold in 2017 after the EU raised concerns over alleged human rights abuses in the previous administration.

The Philippine government, Marcos said, is optimistic that the FTA will unlock new opportunities, significantly increasing market access for Philippine goods and services and at the same time, facilitate the flow of investments, technology, and expertise, bringing mutual benefits to both sides.

“The FTA is more than just an agreement; it is a symbol of our shared vision for a future of prosperity and collaboration,” Marcos said.

The country welcomes continued EU investment in key sectors aligned with innovation and sustainability such as in renewable energy, and electronics manufacturing that leverage on the strengths of Philippines’ exports, and emission reduction goals through automotive/e-vehicle investments, said the President.

The IT-BPM sector also offers significant growth potential in data analytics and software, while public-private partnerships (PPPs) in sustainable infrastructure are expanding, Marcos said, adding that the Philippines also offers European companies opportunities in agricultural and fishery processing.

To maximize the benefits of the FTA, he said the Philippine government has enacted significant reforms enhancing the business environment, such as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Services Act, and the Green Lanes Initiative for Strategic Investments.

$161-B infra dev’t program

Likewise, the Chief Executive said the country is offering a range of investment opportunities for PPPs under the administration’s “Build, Better, More” program which features 185 major infrastructure projects worth US$161 billion (around PHP9.2 trillion) to enhance the country’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

“This program is transforming our infrastructure landscape by offering public-private partnerships in renewable energy, waste management, transportation, and disaster mitigation. These initiatives will further enhance the Philippines’ attractiveness as an investment destination,” Marcos said.

Marcos also touted the Maharlika Investment Fund, the Philippine’s first sovereign wealth fund, to provide a platform for private-sector engagement in financing flagship infrastructure projects in the country. (PNA)