After the European Union (EU) did not interrupt further talks on the proposed bilateral free trade agreement with the Philippines, it said on Friday that it had prioritised the EU`s Generalis System of Preference Plus as a platform for cooperation and trade relations with the Duterte government. The EU works closely with ASEAN as a whole. Cooperation will be maintained through the EU-ASEAN dialogue, which includes discussions on trade and investment issues between ministers and senior economic officials. A free trade agreement covering a wide range of trade and investment issues could take years. An agreement could make a significant contribution to increasing EU investment in trade with the Philippines and trade with the Philippines, especially as the region is one of its main economic partners. Since December 2014, the Philippines has benefited from enhanced trade preferences with the EU under the EU`s Generalized Preferences Plus System (GSP). The Special Incentive for Sustainable Development and Good Governance Scheme provides for the total elimination of tariffs for two-thirds of all product categories, with the aim of supporting sustainable development and good governance. Intellectual property protection provisions (Chapter 8 and Appendix XVIII) include trademarks, copyrights, patents and geographical indications, and include provisions for respect for intellectual property rights and cooperation between the parties. These provisions are based on the WTO agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and provide for a high level of protection, taking into account the principles of the most favoured nation and national treatment. Ensuring better access for EU exporters to the dynamic ASEAN market is an EU priority. Negotiations for a trade and investment agreement between the region and ASEAN began in 2007 and were interrupted by mutual agreement in 2009 to relax a bilateral negotiating format.
“Given the changing situation in the country for the European Union, the priority of trade relations between the EU and the PH is currently the correct implementation of the 27 UN conventions on human rights, workers` rights, the environment and good governance, which are the basis of the EU`s GSP programme,” he added. The European Union delegation to the Philippines said that the next round of negotiations for a free trade agreement would take place “if the conditions are right,” without explaining why there has been no progress since the last round of negotiations two years ago. While the Philippines` trade with the EU has not developed well despite preferential trade under the GSP Plus system, the Philippines has done nothing good in investment either. A Sustainable Impact Assessment (AIS) has been carried out to support negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and the Philippines.