HUNGARY seeks to speed up negotiations for a free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Philippines before Manila’s trade perks under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) expire in 2027, according to its top envoy. 

“Many rounds of negotiations will be held, and we will make sure that the free trade agreement will be only about trade, and not about political issues,” Hungary Minister of Foreign Affairs Pйter Szijjбrtу told a news briefing in Makati City on Thursday.  

“We should conclude negotiations before then (2027),” he added.  

The Central European nation will assume the EU chairmanship next month. 

The agreement, which requires the Philippines to uphold commitments to 27 international conventions on human rights, labor, good governance and climate action, was extended until 2027 before it expired at the end of last year. 

Last month, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said he expects free trade talks with the EU to finish ahead of 2027. 

“No, (there is no target date yet) but we would like to finish it as soon as possible,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo told reporters on the sidelines of his meeting with Mr. Szijjбrtу. 

“In 2027, our GSP+ will be up again so it is better to have it in place well before that,” he added. — John Victor D. Ordonez