Gov't urged to start negotiations for Philippines-EU trade deal
General Santos City (10 November) -- The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) reiterates its call amid the ongoing discussions for a possible Philippines-EU FTA following the conclusion of the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the two countries in Brussels in June this year.
The Philippines has to move fast in pursuing its negotiations for a bilateral agreement with the European Union, otherwise it will be left out by other ASEAN countries that are taking the same route for a trade deal with EU, it said.
It can be recalled that PCCI's think-tank, the Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade (U-ACT) made a study in 2009 on the "Merits to Philippine Business of having a bilateral Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement," highlighting among others, the sectors that will benefit from the agreement and the opportunities at stake for Philippines exports to the EU market.
PCCI Vice Chairman and U-ACT Chief Executive Office (CEO) Donald Dee underscored the need to craft the Philippine position and strategy in preparation for the actual negotiations whenever both countries agreed to sit down and once the PCA has been signed. The PCA is not an FTA but it is a prerequisite to having a trade deal.
"The EU is one major market that we see beneficial to our exports. As we know, other ASEAN countries like Vietnam and Singapore are at the advanced stages of negotiations while Indonesia has already signed a PCA. Likewise, negotiations with Malaysia have also started. We have to move quickly but with caution if we really want to take advantage and penetrate the EU market," Dee said.
Speaking before the 36th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition, European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald warned that EU might not be able to accommodate Philippines if it continues to drag its position from pursuing an FTA. He said the EU is "willing to engage bilaterally with ASEAN countries who are able to negotiate an ambitious FTA, which covers not only the liberalization of trade in goods and services, but also addresses issues on IPR protection, trade facilitation, government procurement, investment and competition policy."
However, while the Philippine government acknowledged EU as a major trading partner, Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) stressed the need to commission and come up with sector specific studies that would also help them appreciate the benefits as well as prepare for the impact of this agreement.
"Pursuing an FTA with EU will entail a lot of wok for us. Intensive studies of gains and costs will have to be conducted and validated and we have to prepare the various sectors of our economy for short as well as long-term effects," Cristobal said.
According to the U-ACT study, some of the sectors that would likely to benefit from the pact include vegetable, oils and fats, textiles/apparel, motor vehicles parts, other manufactures. Other potential sectors are financial services and insurance, chemical products, communication, construction/dwellings, energy and water supply, paper & publishing, leather, machinery & electrical appliances.
For instance, the business process outsourcing (BPO) is a major strength of the Philippines, both as a source of revenue and employment for the Philippines. (PCCI/PIA SarGen) [top]