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EU, PH hope for early conclusion of free trade talks.

The early conclusion of the free trade negotiations between the Philippines and the European Union is targeted so the former can take advantage of the current aggressive trading and overseas investment activities of the 28-member bloc.

This was according to the head of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, who expects that an FTA will result in the doubling of bilateral trade and investments between the two parties.

'The [Philippines] is possibly at a crossroad, having long done away with its reputation as the sick man of Asia and being in a bright spot today. Implementation of sound policies could mean a potential take off to the upper middle income level. The EU wants to contribute and we do. Our trade with the Philippines doubled in the last seven years to 13 billion euros for goods and 3.3 billion euros for services,' EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said.

'The EU is the largest investor in the Philippines accounting for a third of approved investments, supporting over 500,000 quality jobs. The growth of trade and investment figures is impressive, but it can be much more. A free trade agreement will easily double trade and investment figures and support Philippines' road to prosperity. Further economic reforms are key and I look forward to working with the new administration to continue exploring opportunities,' he added.

Jessen wanted the Philippines to be part of the second batch of countries that would forge bilateral preferential trade agreements with the EU. The first batch saw EU signing FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam.

The FTA with Vietnam, according to Jessen, took about two years to conclude and it was hoped that the same speed could be seen in the negotiations with the Philippines.

'We want the Philippines to conclude (its FTA negotiations with the EU) early so you can benefit from European investments. (The second round of negotiations) will discuss different issues that are important to us like the (foreign) ownership limitations here that many European businesses take as an issue. There are other different issues raised by companies,' Jessen said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Sep 28, 2016
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