News: RP urged to initiate free trade pact with EC -
04 Aug 2010
The European Commission (EC) has urged the Philippines to initiate separate talks for a free trade agreement (FTA) which it has not done yet in contrast with the other Aseaean members.
In a recent dialogue with the Philippine civil society, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the delegation of the European Commission, explained that the recently concluded European Union-Philippine Partnership Agreement would serve as the foundation for an EU-Philippine relations and provide the legal basis for a wide-ranging cooperation.
MacDonald added that the agreement covers political matters including peace process and conflict prevention, trade and investments, including investments, customs and trade facilitation as well as IPR, justice and security, migration and a wide range of economic, development and sectoral issues including employment, social affairs, disaster risk management, energy environment and agriculture.
The EU decided in 2004 to first conclude a partnership cooperation agreement with each of the ASEAN 10 members before it pushes through with FTA negotiations.
The EU-RP partnership cooperation agreement was the second agreement concluded between the 27-nation EU and a member of the ASEAN region, after Indonesia. Those with Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore are still ongoing.
MacDonald told business and civil society leaders that EU anticipates that the agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines to be formally signed in Brussels sometime before the end of the year.
He explained that the concluded pact will have to be ratified by each of the legislative bodies in the EU and he expected that it will also be submitted for ratification in the Philippine Senate before the target signing date.
Even before the signing of the comprehensive agreement, he said the Philippines should initiate talks for an EU-Philippine FTA. This was indicated by EU negotiators as early as 2004, MacDonald revealed.
• He was informed though that the new Trade Secretary, Gregory Domingo, has indicated to the business community that the Aquino administration is willing to open trade talks with any and all potential trading partners.
Source: Manila Bulletin Online, Main Business Section, by Edu H. Lopez, 3 August 2010