On 22 December 2015, following the green light given by the EU Council to the Commission on 16 November 2015, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo agreed to start negotiations for an EU-Philippines Free Trade Agreement.
Both sides share the ambition to conclude an agreement that covers a broad range of issues, including elimination of customs duties and other barriers to trade, services and investment, access to public procurement markets, as well as additional disciplines in the area of competition and protection of intellectual property rights. The prospective agreement will also include a comprehensive chapter that will ensure that closer economic relations between the EU and the Philippines go hand in hand with environmental protection and social development.
Philippines was granted the EU’s General System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) in January 2015, a decision strongly supported by FTA. This allows the Philippines to export, tariff-free, over 6,200 products (66 percent of all product tariff lines) to the EU, including garments, textiles, footwear, processed fruit, coconut oil, and fish. However, the current macro-economic figures for the Philippines suggest that the country is developing quickly and this might lead it to leave the GSP system in the coming years.
This would increase the need for a free trade agreement which will ensure that the duties between the two sides will remain low in the future. For this reason, the Foreign Trade Association encourages the two sides to conclude a deep and comprehensive agreement in a reasonable timeframe. FTA will seek an active role in the negotiations and will be preparing a position paper in the coming months.