A POTENTIAL free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) could serve to boost tourism and digital connectivity, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
“What I want to see also is forging stronger relations within the EU and the Philippines in areas of tourism,” Mr. Balisacan said during a forum on Wednesday.
“We (also) hope connectivity improves between the EU and the Philippines. We need infrastructure to be built up, also connectivity. The hard thing about our country is we are archipelagic. It’s difficult to invest in connectivity,” he added.
Mr. Balisacan said the government is pushing for the agreement as the Philippines its neighbors in terms of free trade deals.
“The President has set the tone: let’s get those partnerships, those trade agreements to move faster. When he learned, for example, we had far fewer bilateral regional FTAs than our neighbors, (he was) surprised to find out that we have not been aggressive in building up trade agreements,” Mr. Balisacan said.
“We need to strengthen those free trade opportunities. I look forward to the renewal and expansion of FTAs with Europe,” he added.
Last week, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on called for the resumption of free trade negotiations between the Philippines and the EU.
“There are a lot of opportunities for investment here. Investors can enter many areas of the economy that have been opened up to foreign equity,” Mr. Balisacan said.
“The only way to join the ranks of more prosperous neighbors is (to) grow faster than usual; that will require a lot of things. We have to address constraints in investment,” he added.
Discussions on the free trade deal were last conducted in 2017. The negotiations were officially started in 2016. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson