PEZA optimistic on EU investments as FTA talks resume

Secretary Pascual and European Commission Executive VP and Trade Commissioner Dombrovskis announcing the resumption of PH-EU FTA negotiations (Photo courtesy of DTI)

As the Philippines re-engages in trade negotiations with the European Union (EU), the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) anticipates a surge in investment interest from the region. The confidence stems from the revival of the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement (PH-EU FTA) discussions, aimed at bolstering economic ties and expanding market access.

PEZA Director General Tereso O. Panga conveyed the agency’s positive outlook, encouraged by the government’s proactive stance in integrating the Philippines more deeply into the global investment fabric. “With President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s initiatives and the anticipated free trade agreement, we expect an increase in EU investments, viewing the Philippines as a viable destination for their ventures,” Panga stated.

Currently, PEZA hosts 202 projects with EU equity, generating significant economic input including PhP 300 billion in investments and the creation of over 50,000 jobs. The expectation is that the FTA will further enhance this relationship, particularly given the EU’s standing as the fifth largest trade partner of the Philippines.

The potential benefits of the PH-EU FTA go beyond the current privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme, which has offered tariff-free entry into the EU market for a substantial portion of Philippine products since 2014. PEZA is pushing for a four-year extension of the GSP+, set to expire at year’s end, to maintain these advantages.

Parallel to these efforts, PEZA is actively courting investments through international missions, such as the recent venture to Madrid, Spain, where prospects for offshoring in industries like shipbuilding and agro-industry were discussed. With the Spanish government identifying the Philippines as a key partner in Asia, PEZA seeks to elevate the trade relationship to include more advanced technology and high-value products.

Following President Marcos Jr.’s visits to Germany and Czech Republic, PEZA is organizing a mission with the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to capitalize on investment leads and explore new opportunities. The high optimism among German firms in the Philippines, as reported in the GPCCI’s AHK World Business Outlook Fall 2023, underlines the potential for growth and is driving PEZA’s commitment to enhancing the country’s attractiveness as a premier investment hub in Southeast Asia.

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