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Friday, April 19, 2024

PHL, EU restarting trade talks as part of recovery boosters

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THE Philippines looks to restart trade talks with the European Union this year as part of efforts to secure economic deals that would boost national recovery.

The Philippines and the EU on Friday convened their first subcommittee meeting on trade, investment and economic cooperation under their Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). The platform provided both sides the opportunity to present ways on how to improve their bilateral trade and investment activities.

Likewise, it pave the way for the two camps to zero in on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus granted to the Philippines by the economic bloc.

According to the EU Delegation to the Philippines, the discussions extended to market access issues, regulatory developments, regional trade agreements, reforms in the multilateral trading system and areas for future engagements and cooperation.

The EU side also argued that the subcommittee meetings can be used to keep abreast of prospects on trade and development between the Philippines and the European bloc. Talks of a free trade agreement (FTA) had been put on hold during the pandemic, as Manila and Brussels focused on domestic recovery for their respective economies.

The subcommittee on trade, investment and economic cooperation was formed after the PCA entered into force in 2019. The first PCA committee meeting took place that year, and that convention mandated the two parties to put up subcommittees to advance talks on trade and economic development.

The Philippines and the EU are trying to iron out their issues to push through with their planned FTA that would upgrade, in effect, the GSP Plus being enjoyed by the Philippines.

The GSP Plus allows Philippine exporters to ship a total of 6,274 products to Europe at zero tariff rate. About 25 percent of the country’s exports to EU are covered by the trade privilege, and in 2019 this translated to at least $2.07 billion worth of shipments.

However, the EU has repeatedly threatened to take away the country’s benefits over President Duterte’s human-rights record, as well as his administration’s plans to revive the death sentence and lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

In exchange for the trade incentive, GSP Plus beneficiaries are required to comply with 27 international core conventions on human rights, labor welfare, good governance and environmental protection.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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