The International Trade Council warmly welcomes the announcement by the EU and the Philippines about their commitment to delve into the potential relaunch of negotiations for a holistic, contemporary, and balanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA), underpinned by sustainability.
Both entities will soon initiate a bilateral ‘scoping process’ to gauge the mutual understanding they share concerning the proposed FTA. A successful culmination of this exploration, following comprehensive consultations with Member States, could potentially pave the way for both the EU and the Philippines to restart FTA dialogues.
Ursula von der Leyen, Commission President, shared her vision, stating, “The Philippines, as an essential ally in the Indo-Pacific territory, aligns with our aspirations. This scoping venture is our stepping stone towards enhancing our association. Jointly, we envision unlocking the abundant potential in our collaboration, birthing novel avenues for enterprises and consumers, while championing the green transition and cultivating an equitable economy.”
The decision to recommence FTA discussions with Thailand earlier this year and now with the Philippines showcases the EU's commitment to fortifying its bonds with the buoyant Indo-Pacific region. This strategic focus reflects the EU's aspiration to deepen trade links with another flourishing economy within South-East Asia.
For the forthcoming FTA with the Philippines, the EU envisions a pact encompassing ambitious market access stipulations, prompt and efficient sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, and reinforced protection for intellectual property rights, especially Geographical Indications. At the heart of this agreement lies a robust commitment to sustainability, buttressed by firm disciplines on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) that align with the Commission's TSD review Communication from June 2022.
Trade between the EU and the Philippines has demonstrated a sturdy foundation:
- Trade in goods amounted to over 18.4 billion euros in 2022.
- Trade in services was valued at 4.7 billion euros in 2021.
- The EU stands as the fourth largest trade partner for the Philippines.
- The Philippines, being the fifth largest economy in the ASEAN landscape, ranks as the seventh most crucial trading associate for the EU in the region, and forty-first globally.
- EU's foreign direct investment stock in the Philippines soared to 13.7 billion euros in 2021.
With the Philippines being one of the most rapidly evolving emerging economies, showcasing the second highest economic growth in ASEAN at 7.6 percent GDP growth in 2022, the International Trade Council is optimistic about the prosperous trajectory this partnership can offer.
The EU's revived interest in reinitiating FTA dialogues with the Philippines has been underscored by the 2021 EU Indo-Pacific Strategy, reinforcing the EU's strategic vision for the region.
For detailed insights on the EU-Philippines trade dynamics, stakeholders and interested parties can refer to resources on EU-Philippines trade relations.