Moving past the political noise surrounding recent pronouncements of the President, European businesses remains steadfast in their commitment to the economic development of the Philippines. At the EU-Philippines Business Summit on October 4, the EU business community formally communicated its recommendations through the Policy Advocacy Paper it turned over to the government. The paper was drafted through the concerted effort of the eight EU Chambers of Commerce operating in Manila, EU Philippines Business Network, and the private sector-at-large. It outlines constructive recommendations for key sector and cross-sector issues, such as: full implementation and enforcement of the Philippine Competition Law, strengthening the sanctity of contracts, pushing for comprehensive tax reform, creation of a competitive fiscal incentives regime, promotion of transparency and integrity, judicial reform, protecting intellectual property rights, and partnering with local government units to increase the ease of doing business.
ECCP President, Guenter Taus, expressed his optimism over the new path that the Philippines is now charting highlighting the change that is written all over the ten-point socio-economic agenda aligns with the priorities of ECCP. “The European business community in the Philippines and in Europe has long yearned for such change – change that will and must facilitate trade and investments,“ Mr. Taus said.
For the government’s side, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez cited EU as one of the country’s biggest source of investments and trading partner with two-way trade reaching US$13.9 billion in 2014. The Trade Secretary underscored the strong economic engagement has been and will continue for the Philippines and EU citing gains in export from the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (EU-GPS) scheme. He also highlighted that the second round of negotiations for the bilateral free trade agreement is also slated in the first week of December this year. The proposed bilateral FTA is expected to be more comprehensive and permanent than the existing trade preferences granted to the Philippines by the EU-GPS.