Assessment on resumption of talks on PH-EU trade deal eyed in Q1 2024

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking forward to the Philippines and the European Union (EU) concluding the assessment on the resumption of negotiations for free trade agreement (FTA) by the first quarter of the year.

In a recent interview with DTI Undersecretary Allan Gepty, he said the stocktaking exercise was launched last year following the visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen here on July 31 last year, announcing EU’s interest to resume talks for the FTA with the Philippines.

The stocktaking meetings between technical experts from the Philippines and EU were also completed in the last quarter of 2023.

The meetings provided a glimpse on the expectations in renegotiating the FTA that has been in hiatus since 2017.

“Of course, there were many developments already, there were many changes, and the issues are also evolving, so we have to sit down again, try to discuss what are the things we have to consider should we decide to resume the FTA negotiations,” Gepty told trade reporters.

He said the Philippine side is taking into account the EU trade agenda, aiming to get the same benefits that other countries get from their free trade deals with the EU.

On the other hand, EU wants to see the elements of sustainable development agenda, such as environment and climate change, among others.

“The value and importance of expanding our FTA network and trade relations cannot be over emphasized,” Gepty, the country’s lead negotiator for FTAs, said. “FTAs have opened new markets and ensured preferential tariff commitments for the country.”

“We intend to use trade negotiations as a tool to push for export competitiveness and ensure that the rules of trade are fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, and trade restrictive non-tariff measures are addressed,” he added.

Currently, the Philippines has three bilateral FTAs — with Japan, South Korea, and the European Free Trade Association.

Aside from the ongoing bilateral FTA engagements with the EU, the country is also pushing for FTAs with the United Arab Emirates and India. (PNA)