by Danica M. Uy, Businessworld, Feb 27, 2017
THE GOVERNMENT’S representatives will be meeting with delegates from the European Union (EU) in September for the second round of free trade agreement (FTA) talks.
“We are looking sometime around September. No definite date but that is our estimate,” said National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon in a phone interview last week.
The first round of discussions was held in Cebu two weeks ago with Philippine and EU delegates making sure their definition of terms are in sync.
“Between now and the next round, there will be an exchange of e-mails so hopefully we can have just one draft for the FTA,” said Ms. Edillon.
According to the undersecretary, the Philippines and the EU have separate drafts, which they plan to consolidate into a unified FTA by the third round of discussions.
“Our group is on trade and services. Our group has a text. EU has a text. So we need just one text. All this will have to be ironed out by the third round,” said Ms. Edillon.
“When it comes to tariffs, we’re looking at preferential tariffs, but that has to do with the schedule of commitments. We are not there yet,” said Ms. Edillon as she commented on specifics of the first round of discussions.
According to Ms. Edillon, the second round of discussions will be held “somewhere in the EU” with the government sending representatives from various government agencies and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as the chief negotiator.
The EU was the country’s fourth largest trading partner last year with Philippine imported goods amounting to $6.422 billion and exported goods amounting to $6.780 billion, bringing the balance of trade to $13.203 billion in 2016, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
Ms. Edillon added that NEDA still has to come up with specific targets for trade with the EU.
In 2015, the Philippines’ main exports to the EU were office and telecommunication equipment, machinery, food products, and optical and photographic instruments, data from DTI showed.
Meanwhile, the main exports of the EU to the Philippines in 2015 were transport equipment, machinery, food products, chemicals, and electronic components. —