The European Union (EU) is calling for stronger trade relations with the Philippines through a project that will focus particularly on the entry of European micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
Part of its EU-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) business perspective, the economic bloc has initiated the EU-Philippines Business Network (EPBN) to further strengthen trade and economic relations with the country.
EPBN’s goal is to increase and diversify exports and investments of European businesses, especially MSMEs, to and within the Philippines and the Asean regional market.
The EPBN will work closely with the Philippine government, business sectors, and other stakeholders in order to strengthen business links through improved market access and increased competition.
Helena Koenig, European Commission Unit Head for South and Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand Directorate-Generale said that one of the key aspects of strengthening business links between the EU and the Philippines is addressing investment barriers.
“One of the key aspects is really making it easier for businesses to invest in the Philippines and doing business here. Part of it is in Philippines legislation, which makes it difficult, or even in the Constitution when it comes to actually being able to own a majority of companies that you invest in, to acquire land, and really to make sure that all the other regulations are friendly,” Koenig said during the 1st EU-Philippines Business Dialogue held in Makati City on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the government welcomed the initiative, saying that EPBN will not only advance the friendship and business ties between the Philippines and the EU but also highlights the importance of the country’s European partners in spurring entrepreneurship and economic development.
“With the entry of the EU-Philippines Business Network we expect a more solid partnership between our regions. More importantly, I would like to note that this initiative targets the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises, which serve as an integral part of the Philippine economy,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
Balisacan, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General, said that through the EPBN, subsectors such as agribusiness, manufacturing, tourism, information technology-business process management, logistics, and construction will be promoted in view of their potential to contribute to employment generation as well as rapid and sustained growth.
Focusing MSME linkage between Philippine and European firms in these areas will certainly help the government achieve its goals of inclusive growth and poverty reduction, Balisacan added.