THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will hold a series of stakeholder consultations in Manila, Cebu and Davao to discuss the Philippines’ Europe Strategy.
The consultation aims to solicit inputs on the on-going free trade agreement (FTA) negations with the European Union (EU), and provide a briefing on the Philippines-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) FTA and the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
Members of the business sector, civil society and relevant government agencies are expected to participate in the consultations this month.
“We act with deliberate speed to nurture our trade and investment relations with Europe and ensure that our local enterprises can take advantage of the opportunities in European market. The One Country, One Voice consultations is an important pillar in our unified industry and trade strategy that helps ensure that our trade negotiating position remains rational, responsive to, and grounded on the needs of our stakeholders,” said Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo.
To date, consultations have been conducted in key cities on the country’s trade engagements with Japan, the EU, and EFTA – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
The DTI is set to foster dialogue and gather stakeholder feedback on cross cutting trade and industry policy issues.
“Our goal is to build on our offensive interests, identify possible roadblocks and determine the necessary measures to better prepare and strengthen industries to upgrade, thrive, and compete with the country’s European partners,” Rodolfo noted.
The upcoming One Country, One Voice consultations will focus on promoting wider involvement of stakeholders in the trade engagements with Europe, particularly in further defining the country’s offensive interests and sensitivities in FTA negotiations, Trade Assistant Secretary Anne Robeniol said.
“While we are working to create a more robust trading and investment relationship with the EU and EFTA, our priority is to utilize the current tangible and concrete gains of our trade engagement through the EU-GSP+ and build on these gains through FTAs,” added Robeniol.
The EU-GSP+ is a preferential tariff scheme which allows the country to export more than 6,000 products tariff free to any EU member country. Last year, with the EU-GSP+ in force, Philippine exports to the EU market grew by 27 percent year-on-year.
Robeniol noted this is part of the DTI’s parallel three-pronged strategy to establish a stronger foothold in the European market which also includes securing long-term duty free market access in the EU and the EFTA through separate free trade agreements (FTAs).
The Philippines is now preparing for the second round of negations with the EU on a possible FTA as well as the executive ratification and Senate concurrence of the recently signed PH-EFTA FTA.
The consultations will be held on September 16 at the DTI International, on September 19 at the Seda Abreeza Davao, and on September 21 at the Quest Hotel Cebu.