Trade between the Philippines and the EU declined by 17% in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, and the former continued to lag behind its neighboring ASEAN countries in its commercial performance despite its privilege of zero duty on more than 6,000 export products to the 27-. member union of the country.

European Union (EU)

The EU Ambassador, Luc Véron, underlined this point during the virtual international web conference of CEOs on the theme “Healthy people, a healthy planet: for a better future together” organized by the Management Association of the Philippines.

“EU-PH trade today is far from its full potential. In 2020, trade between the EU and the Philippines decreased by 17%, ”he said.

In her speech, Veron pointed out that the Philippines has enjoyed robust trade with the EU in recent years, largely due to their zero-duty privilege on more than 6,000 export lists to the Union of 27 member countries, but still lag far behind neighboring Southeast Asian countries. countries that do not benefit from zero tariffs on their exports under the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP +).

Bilateral merchandise trade between the EU and the Philippines has grown steadily in recent years, reaching before the COVID epidemic the level of € 15 billion in total trade in 2019.

However, he pointed out that the total EU-Vietnam trade is 3 times the EU-PH trade and more than 2.5 times the EU-Thailand trade. “Certainly, there is ample room to do more and better and also to recover the ground lost during the pandemic,” he said.

The Philippines’ dismal trade performance with the EU is despite the fact that the Philippines enjoys the benefits of the EU’s GSP + trade preference, in which more than 6,000 product lines enter the EU market at a tariff zero. The Philippines’ GSP + utilization rate in 2020 was around 73%. “This is an important competitive advantage for the Philippines, as it is the only ASEAN country to benefit from an SPG + trade preference, especially for agriculture, food and fisheries, textiles and manufactured products, ”he stressed.

In terms of investment, the EU is also an important source of foreign direct investment in the Philippines. Historically, the EU has contributed over 25 percent of total approved foreign direct investment in the Philippines.

The EU27 recorded a stock of FDI to the Philippines of € 14.4 billion. In terms of FDI flows, the EU27 recorded € 665 million in 2019.

At the same time, Veron said the 27 member states will step up cooperation with the Philippines on digital connectivity cooperation over the coming years.

“Over the next three years, we will also intensify cooperation on digital connectivity, in particular related to Earth observation and its application to the main challenges of the Philippines: climate change, natural disasters and green economic development,” said he declared.

This focus on the green deal and the circular economy will also be replicated in the EU’s cooperation with ASEAN.

The EU’s cooperation priorities with the Philippines under its new national program 2021-2027 would perfectly reflect these global priorities, he said.

Already, two priority areas of cooperation have been agreed in close consultation with the government. It is about the green and resilient economy and green jobs, and about the peaceful and just society, about good governance.

Priority area 1 has three mutually reinforcing objectives relating to the circular economy and plastic waste management, digital connectivity and green digital transformation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

These efforts will be implemented through cooperation with the private sector, civil society and structures of EU Member States, including EU financial institutions under the Team Europe initiatives.

The EU delegation, he said, is also formulating its first major activity on the circular economy.

The idea is to create a strong dynamic of strengthening national and regional actions to support ASEAN in its green recovery, emerging from the crisis.


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