Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual on Tuesday said he will be flying to Brussels, Belgium by the end of June to discuss the status of the European Union’s (EU) Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) and proposed free trade agreement (FTA). Pascual said his scheduled trip to Brussels was a result of his recent meeting with the EU Parliament. “Well, I will be going to Brussels towards the end of June to follow up on the EU GSP+ and also, potentially a Free Trade Agreement with the EU,” he told Palace reporters in a press conference. Under the EU GSP+, the Philippines enjoys a free tariff for 6,274 products entering the EU market. In return, the Philippines has to adhere to the 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and good governance to continue enjoying the trade perks. The Philippines and the EU also launched exploratory talks on bilateral FTA in 2013. There were two negotiations held in Brussels in 2016 and in Cebu in 2017, but talks have been on hiatus for six years now. Pascual stressed the need to resume the Philippines and EU’s negotiations for an FTA. “Binanggit na rin sa akin iyan noong mga parliamentarians from EU na bumisita sa opisina ko. Kaya sabi ko nga, so kailangang mag-umpisa na tayong mag-negotiate ng free trade agreement. So, ‘yun ang usapan (The parliamentarians from EU who visited my office also mentioned that (proposed FTA). That’s why I told them we need to resume negotiations for a free trade agreement. That’s what we talked about) and we will see,” he said. “Mayroon tayong (We get) support from of course the business from Europe that are operating in the Philippines and also some members of parliament of the EU,” Pascual added. Pascual met with the EU Parliament representatives on Feb. 22 and gave updates on the Philippines’ commitments to the 27 international conventions and how the GSP+ has benefitted the Philippines and EU economic relations. He also discussed the country’s interest to revive the talks on the proposed FTA. On May 25, Marcos said pursuing a free trade pact would be a “win-win strategy’ for both the Philippines and the EU.
Source: Philippines News Agency