FILIPINO senators met their Spanish counterparts on Monday to discuss ways to strengthen trade relations between the Philippines and the European Union (EU), which Spain presides over.

In a statement, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, who led the delegation of Philippine senators in Spain, said they met with Spanish Senate President Pedro Rollán about developing a free trade agreement between the Philippines and the EU.

“The foundations of our friendship are anchored on our shared history, our shared culture and our shared Catholic faith,” Mr. Zubiri said. “Though we are proud to be our own independent Republic, we are also grateful for our heritage and our Hispanidad.”

The Philippine delegation consisted of Senators Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, Joseph Victor “JV” G. Ejercito, Maria Lourdes “Nancy” S. Binay-Angeles, Mark A. Villar, and Pilar Juliana “Pia” S. Cayetano.

The senators will be in Spain until Wednesday, Mr. Zubiri’s office told reporters in a Viber message.

Philippine Ambassador to Spain Philippe J. Lhullier and Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Miguel U. Delgado also attended the parliamentary visit in Spain.

During the visit, Mr. Rollán said it was crucial for Spain and the Philippines to continue collaborating on trade as both countries transition out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Zubiri expressed gratitude to the EU for extending the Philippines’ participation in its Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) in July.

GSP+ allows the Philippines to enjoy zero tariffs on 6,274 products or 66% of all EU tariff lines. Some of the top Philippine GSP+ exports to the EU are crude coconut oil, vacuum cleaners, prepared or preserved tuna, hairdressing equipment, and prepared or preserved pineapple.

The agreement requires the Philippines to uphold commitments to 27 international conventions on human rights, labor, good governance, and the environment. — John Victor D. Ordoñez