By Carmencita A. Carillo, Correspondent

EU sees anti-corruption drive increasing investment in PHL

Posted on June 22, 2016

DAVAO CITY -- The Philippines can expect more investment from European Union (EU) member states especially with president-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to prioritize the battle against corruption.

“Mr. Duterte spoke about his campaign against corruption and with Europe’s very high standards against corruption the more transparent countries can expect more investments,” EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said in an interview.

Mr. Jessen, who paid a call on Mr. Duterte on Monday night, said if the Philippines can succeed in its campaign to reduce corruption and increase the ease of doing business, then it can expect more business from the EU.

He said the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will accelerate investment even further. The initial round of negotiations for the FTA started last month.

Walter van Hattum, head of the EU delegation to the Philippines earlier said the latter’s bilateral trade with the EU is underperforming compared to other countries in the region. The Philippines is the EU’s fourth largest trading partner in the region.

Mr. Jessen said the underdevelopment of trade is expected to change with the new administration and with the successful conclusion of the FTA which covers intellectual property rights protections, access to public procurement markets and the addressing of barriers to trade, services and investments among others.

The Philippines has been seeking FTA negotiations with the EU since 2013.

Regarding the peace process in the south, Mr. Jessen said: “The President [elect] was quick to take on the peace process in Mindanao, talking to all groups” so that no one is left behind. The EU is the number one contributor to the multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF)-Reconstruction and Development Program administered by the World Bank.”

“The Fund provides resources for the recovery of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao,” he said. The Fund was established in 2005 and will run until mid-2017. The EU, particularly Sweden, contributed more than 70% of its $28.8-million budget.

Through the MTF, he added: “nearly 50,000 individuals have been provided with health, education and livelihood programs; 84,000 have better market access due to road construction; over 140,000 have reported increased income due to post-harvest facilities and fishing implements; 120,000 people have direct access to safe and potable water and nearly 200,000 have benefitted from community centers and shelters.”

Mr. Jessen said: “The EU was there in the bad times. We hope to be there in good times too, when peace and economic growth become the new normal in Mindanao.”