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Sec.Ramon Lopez at EU Parliament
Secretary Ramon M. Lopez speaks at the European Union (EU) Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

Brussels - Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and Special Envoy to the European Union (EU) and former Senate President Edgardo Angara urged the EU Parliament to further engage the Philippines (PH) through the expansion of the General System of Preferences plus (GSP+) in a presentation at the EU Parliament and meetings with various trade institutions and parliament ministers.

“We want to follow thru the dialogue on the expansion of the GSP+ and move to a long lasting trade concession via a Free Trade Agreement,” Secretary Lopez said.

The trade chief highlighted the good economic relationship between the PH and EU, and the need to continue the mutually beneficial trade concession. EU is the 4th largest export market of PH, with over 6 billion Euros worth of exports and 36% growth in the first two quarters of 2017.

In the meeting, Secretary Lopez and Special Envoy Angara assured the parliament and business institutions that Philippines is a strong economic partner and there will be a continuing dialogue to ensure that they get the real and more objective situation in the country.

PH is their ally in the ASEAN region and is a gateway through its FTAs with ASEAN and other Asian partners such as Japan, China, and Korea.

The special trade preference will benefit many Philippine product exporters, particularly those for processed foods such as canned tuna and sardines. This would help the farmers and fisherfolks especially in the Mindanao region. GSP+ gives zero tariff to 6,247 product lines entering the EU market.

EU ministers laud the invitation extended by the Philippines to the EU Council President Donald Dusk, who also confirmed his attendance in the forthcoming ASEAN Summit in November. This is seen as a good sign in the improving Philippines-EU relationship.

Philippine delegation also assured the EU that the Philippines continues to adhere to protecting human rights and the President's zero tolerance for abusive enforcers. There is clear rule of law and strong democracy in the country.

The meetings highlighted also the President's role in championing the concerns of the poor and oppressed, thus the Philippine delegation cited many programs such as on drug rehabilitation, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development, social development, universal healthcare, free education and free irrigation.

EU appreciated the high level representation towards a closer dialogue to address ongoing concerns. Real facts and numbers are presented and views directly from the administration. Closer dialogue will strengthen further the trade and investment ties between the two economies.

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