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  January 5th, 2016 | Written by

EU and the Philippines Launch Negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement

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  • EU Trade Commissioner: Negotiations with Philippines is evidence of the EU's commitment to Southeast Asia.
  • EU- Philippines FTA will include chapter on environmental protection and social development.
  • Negotiations for EU-ASEAN FTA were launched in 2007 and paused in 2009 in favor of bilateral negotiations.
  • The EU has completed bilateral agreements with Singapore, in 2014, and Vietnam, in 2015.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo have started negotiations for an EU-Philippines free trade agreement (FTA).

Both sides share the ambition to conclude an agreement that covers a broad range of issues, including elimination of customs duties and other barriers to trade, services and investment, access to public procurement markets, as well as additional disciplines in the area of competition, and protection of intellectual property rights. The prospective agreement will also include a comprehensive chapter that will ensure that closer economic relations between the EU and the Philippines go hand in hand with environmental protection and social development.

“Launching negotiations with the Philippines represents an important milestone in EU-Philippines relations and a further evidence of the EU’s commitment to Southeast Asia,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. “The Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region in the recent years. We need to make sure our companies enjoy the right conditions to seize the great potential of that market of 100 million consumers.”

The Philippines is one of the 10 members of the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN), as well as the fifth largest economy in the region and the second biggest market in ASEAN. It is the fifth ASEAN country to start negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with the EU.

Taken as a whole, ASEAN ranks as the eighth economy in the world and the EU’s third-largest trading partner outside Europe, after the United States and China. Bilateral trade in goods and services between the EU and ASEAN reached $257 billion in 2013.

Negotiations for a region-to-region FTA with ASEAN were launched in 2007 and paused in 2009 to give way to a bilateral format of negotiation. These bilateral FTAs were conceived as building blocks towards a future region-to-region agreement. So far, the EU has completed bilateral agreements with Singapore, in 2014, and Vietnam, in 2015.

The EU-Philippines relation is governed today by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in July 2012. The Philippines has also been benefitting since the end of 2014 from the enhanced trade preferences granted by the EU under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP)-plus since the end of 2014.

The first round of negotiations on the EU-Philippines FTA is expected to take place in the first half of 2016 in the Philippines.