MAKATI CITY—Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual emphasized on Wednesday that the Philippines is keen on pursuing the resumption of the negotiations for the Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement (PH-EU FTA) as this will bring in new avenues for economic growth and cooperation between the Philippines and the EU—one of the world’s largest single markets.

“Ultimately, what we are focusing on is an enhanced market access for Philippine goods and services to the EU as this will allow Philippine exporters to diversify their markets, reach a broader consumer base, and increase their export volumes,” he said.

The reduction or elimination of tariffs imposed on Philippine goods entering the EU, which is part of the PH-EU FTA, will enhance the competitiveness of Philippine products, making them more attractive to European consumers and therefore enabling micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and Filipino exporters to earn more profit. Aside from the benefits it brings to the export sector, the PH-EU FTA will facilitate the influx of foreign direct investments (FDIs) from EU countries, which the DTI sees as a huge contributor to knowledge transfer, job generation, and local industry development.

Further, Secretary Pascual shared that, “On 18 May 2023, I met with the Swedish Minister of Trade and International Development Cooperation, His Excellency Johan Forssell, where he expressed support for the Philippines’ interest for the retention of our GSP status and our re-application to the EU-GSP+, as well as the resumption of the PH-EU FTA negotiations.”

According to Minister Forsell, the Swedish government is supportive of the Philippines’ endeavors as Sweden is a country that is pro-trade and pro-markets. He also mentioned that Swedish companies are now open to partnering with Philippine companies and are interested in cooperating in terms of technology transfer to support industry development and innovation, and skills upgrading. Secretary Pascual welcomed his expression of support with great optimism.

Aside from the Swedish Minister, the European Union – ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC), also expressed support for the Philippines’ push for the resumption of the negotiations last Monday during their meeting with Secretary Pascual. The organization serves as the voice of the European businesses in the ASEAN region. Therefore, Secretary Pascual also highlighted that the organization’s support would provide the needed boost to the country’s intent.

“We are grateful for this support from the Swedish government and the EU-ABC, especially on the re-starting of the PH-EU FTA negotiations as we prepare to respond to the ongoing trend in economic growth and as we aim to make the Philippines a middle-income economy in the next few years,” he added.

The DTI holds that through the PH-EU FTA, the country will be better positioned to be a regional hub for sustainable, connected, and innovative manufacturing and services industries. *

Date of release: 24 May 2023