Legarda optimistic on continued PHL-EU Partnership
Senator Loren Legarda today expressed optimism on the continued cooperation between the Philippines and the European Union (EU), citing the long-standing partnership between the country and the European community since 1964. “We value our bilateral relations with the EU and we expect this to be more robust especially with the impending concurrence of the Senate in the ratification of our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with them,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The Senator noted that in 2016, EU ranked as the Philippines’ 4th largest trading partner, 4th export market, and 5th import supplier. EU Member States represent the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, supporting over 500,000 local jobs. It also ranks 4th among sources of Official Development Assistance (ODA) grants. Moreover, the EU is home to an estimated 700,000-800,000 Filipinos; it is the 3rd largest source of remittances from overseas Filipinos; and is the 5th largest source of tourists in Philippines. Legarda said she will soon call a hearing on the Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation Between the Philippines and the European Union (PH-EU PCA), which will serve as a general framework of relations between the Philippines and the EU and will allow better cooperation between the two parties on political, economic and development issues. “We are currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU which will be linked to the PCA. Through the FTA, we will be able to further unlock our trade and economic potential by providing our products with wider access to the markets of the Member States of the European Union, thereby ensuring benefits for small and medium enterprises,” Legarda said. The Senator explained that the country will benefit from the PCA through: Customs and Trade Facilitation, which will provide technical assistance and exchange of experts between PH Customs and EU Customs administrations; Cooperation in Combatting Illicit Drugs through strengthened information and information exchange, drug-related research, drug profiling and prevention of manufacture of dangerous drugs and diversion of controlled precursors; cooperation in combatting terrorism and transnational crimes, and migration and maritime labor. Other areas of cooperation under the PCA include employment and social affairs; development cooperation; economic policy; financial services; good governance in the tax area; industrial policy and SMEs; information and communications technology; audiovisual, media and multimedia; science and technology; transport; tourism; education, culture, intercultural and interfaith dialogue; energy; environment and natural resources including climate change; agriculture, fisheries and rural development; regional development; health; statistics; disaster risk management; and public administration. On February 28, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the Philippines and the EU. It is expecting concurrence from the Senate of the Philippines. All 28 Member-States of the European Union have already ratified the PCA, and the EU Council is set to adopt a conclusion on its ratification.