British Embassy pushes for Philippines-EU free trade deal-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
THE British Embassy in Manila on Thursday pushed for the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Union (EU), noting the boost in the economies of the two countries that such an agreement can contribute.
The United Kingdom, a member of the 27-member state bloc, supported the first in a three-series Southeast Asian trade forums "that seek to help small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from trading arrangements," which was held at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
During the forum, British Embassy in Manila charge d'affaires Trevor Lewis noted how the project can help small and medium enterprises [SMEs] "raise the utilization of existing concessions with its FTA partners to boost the country's gains from global trade."
The project supports the UK's continued work to ensure SMEs develop and to maintain trade and investment openness, a statement from the embassy said. Studies have shown that there is a 20-percent increase in trade openness that translates into a 4-percent increase in per capita income.
Lewis also expressed the British government's support for an FTA between the Philippines and the EU. He said that the UK is looking forward to start trade negotiations with the Philippines.
A number of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries have already signed "or are close to signing" an FTA with the bloc.
Asean is composed of the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam.
The FTA will open doors for a zero tariff and lower taxes on products traded between Manila and EU nations.
The Philippines has been talking with EU regarding a free trade agreement, but there are no positive signs yet to the talks that have been going on for years.
Ambassador Donald Dee, the chairman of the Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade, which supported the said forum, enumerated the opportunities that an FTA can open for small and medium enterprises in the country.
A representative from the Tariff Commission and Customs, on the other hand, discussed "the simplified, step-by-step procedure on how exporters should apply for tariff rulings to determine their product classification and how to apply for a Certificate of Origin, which is necessary in availing FTA preferential tariffs."
Lewis said the focus on small and medium enterprises was "deliberate" because the project aimed to help these businesses "ride the waves of high economic growth."
He also praised the Philippines for shifting to a higher growth trajectory.
The second and third sessions of the forum will take place in Indonesia and Thailand. (CVB/Sunnex)