In photo: Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual and Hungary Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó

Manila City, Philippines—The Philippines looks forward to Hungary’s upcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) as a strategic opportunity to boost trade and investment between the Philippines and the entire European region.

This sentiment was echoed by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual during his meeting with Hungary’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó at the Malacañan Palace on June 13.

“We are optimistic that Hungary will continue to champion the EU’s trade agenda on open, sustainable, and mutually beneficial trade. Additionally, we eagerly await advancements in the discussions surrounding the next Generalized Scheme of Preferences regulation,” said the Philippine trade chief. 

The Philippines currently enjoys enhanced trade preferences with the EU under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). This program grants duty-free access for a significant portion of Philippine exports. However, the Philippines seeks a more permanent and comprehensive trade arrangement through the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement (PH-EU FTA). 

This approach would significantly bolster the country’s development goals and sustainability efforts by facilitating access to cutting-edge European technology and expertise in crucial areas like renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, infrastructure development, and advanced manufacturing. 

Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has set a target of finalizing the PH-EU FTA by 2027.

The Philippines currently ranks 10th among EU destinations for Hungarian exports, particularly electronics and processed foods, which highlights the significant untapped potential for Philippine exports in return. The Philippines also seeks to capitalize on its potential in machinery and electronics, manufactured goods, horticulture, vehicles, minerals, information technology business process management, and research and development.

Moreover, the Philippines boasts a burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, and a rich source of critical raw materials like nickel and copper which can complement Hungary’s EV battery industry.

The Philippines congratulates Hungary on its upcoming presidency of the EU Council on July 1, seen as a positive step towards achieving successful PH-EU FTA negotiations.

“We laud and support Hungary’s incoming presidency of the EU Council, and we look forward to a productive negotiation for the PH-EU FTA covering emerging elements like trade and sustainable development.” said Secretary Pascual.

Apart from resumption of the PH-EU FTA negotiations, the Philippines highlights the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation (JCEC) with Hungary as the most active platform of the DTI with a trading partner. The most recent JCEC meeting coincided with the celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Hungary. ♦

Date of release: 18 June 2024