Next round of EU-PH FTA eyed in Q3 2024

By Kris Crismundo

March 20, 2024, 4:17 pm

<p><em>Image from European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP)</em></p>

Image from European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP)

MANILA – After the announcement of the Philippines and the European Union (EU) to resume negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement, a senior government official said on Wednesday they are eyeing to resume the formal discussions by the third quarter of 2024.

“We are targeting third quarter of the year. Prior to that we still have to meet with the EU,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary for International Trade Policy Group Allan Gepty told the Philippine News Agency.

Gepty, the country’s lead negotiator for FTAs, said both parties have yet to decide whether the upcoming negotiation would be a continuation of the second round of formal talks held in 2017 or this will be a new round of discussions.

On Monday, DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual and European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis jointly announced that both parties have agreed to resume negotiations for the Philippines-EU FTA.

Dombrovskis noted that “conditions are right to take our trade relations to the next level,” and projected that the bilateral FTA would expand trading between the two countries by 6 billion euros.

The announcement of the recommencement of the formal FTA negotiations was also welcomed by European business groups.

“This renewed interest underscores the attractiveness of the Philippines as a prime business destination for European firms, emphasizing the mutual benefits of fostering deeper economic ties,” the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said in a statement.

Likewise, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) lauded the resumption of the bilateral negotiations for a free trade deal.

“With Germany standing as the Philippines' leading trading partner and top investment figures in 2023, as reported by the Philippine Board of Investments, the EU-Philippines FTA presents a significant opportunity to further enhance the interests of German businesses, as demonstrated by their keen enthusiasm observed during the business forum,” the GPCCI said in a separate statement.

It noted that based on its AHK World Business Outlook Survey for Fall 2023, 70 percent of the surveyed respondents recognized the FTA’s vital contribution to the success of their business operations.

The Philippines-EU FTA becomes the country’s fourth bilateral trade, adding to the existing FTA with Japan, South Korea, and the European Free Trade Association. (PNA)