President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (REUTERS)
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday called for the resumption of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement between the Philippines and the European Union (EU).
Marcos said that with the “conducive business atmosphere” that the Philippines is fostering, the timing and conditions are “quite right” to solidify trade relations between the Philippines and the EU through a free trade agreement.
“A bilateral free trade agreement will be a win-win strategy for both the Philippines and the EU. It promises to achieve mutually beneficial economic goals while maintaining consistency with the EU’s core ideals of sustainable development and environment protection as well as with EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” he said in his speech at the U-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) annual general meeting gala dinner.
“Hence, I take this opportunity to call upon our friends from the EU ABC and the ECCP (European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines) to actively advocate for the resumption of negotiations for this purpose as well as to strive for fair treatment and more beneficial reciprocity,” Marcos added.
He said the EU-ABC and the ECCP, which he described as “credible voices of the Europen business community,” can help move negotiations toward a “favorable conclusion.”
“If and when that happens, it could very well be the capstone of all efforts to strength PH-EU relations over the course of the next decades,” the President said.
Marcos said his administration aims to create an “enabling environment” that will help achieve the tangible socio-economic goals for the people.
With this, he said his administration started implemented strategies which include broadening the range of liberalized businesses and sectors to include public services, retail trade, and renewables, as well as making the system of corporate taxation more business-friendly, with a lowered tax rate and improved mechanism for tax and duties incentives.
The government will also establish express or “green” lanes to integrate and streamline permitting and approval processes, and remove unnecessary barriers and redundancies.
Marcos said these will enhance the Philippines’ potential as an attractive trade and investment destination, which will also bode well for a stronger and more productive relationship between the Philippines and the EU.
This solid enabling environment, he said, will also pave the way for the country’s compliance with vital international obligations as determined by the EU, and guarantee the Philippines’ continued participation in the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme.
The President touted how the Philippines has been showing “healthy signs” of recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 7.6% gross domestic product growth in 2022.
This, he said, signifies highly resilient economic progress in the country.
He also said that his administration has rolled out the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028.