Europe sees huge potential in enhancing its trade and investment relations with the Philippines but noted more can be done to improve the country’s competitiveness.
Luc Veron, ambassador of the European Union in the Philippines, in a press conference on the release of the Doing Business in the Philippines 2023 publication, said 2022 bilateral trade between the two will surpass pre-pandemic levels. He did not cite figures but available data showed 2019 two-way trade reached 15 billion euros.
“Bilateral trade is gaining traction and growing steadily. Trade plays a key role towards resilience and sustainable economic recovery… open trade and investment are crucial to generate growth and jobs,” he said.
Veron noted this is an opportune time for the country to implement reforms, policies towards a more competitive, resilient and sustainable future.
He cited reforms that have been undertaken by the Philippines which, among others, opened key economic sectors to foreign investment, modernized customs and could have the potential to improve the ease of doing business.
“In particular, we welcome the revision of the implementing rules and regulations on the Renewable Energy (Act) allowing 100 percent participation of foreign investors including Europeans… and once fully implemented, and without restrictions can be beneficial to businesses and investors also from Europe. These reforms will accelerate know-how transfer and the capacity to create new and better jobs and support the growth… and will make the Philippines more competitive in the region,” he said.
Veron cited critical issues like the reliability of power supply and reliability of connectivity and access to qualified labor force as “ very important considerations” if one wants to investments if you want to invest in in any country, including the Philippines.
In the same event, Norwegian ambassador Christian Lyster reported the outcome of the first meeting on January 10 of the Joint Committee created in accordance with the Philippines- European Free Trade Association (EFTA) free trade agreement (FTA). Norway is part of the EFTA countries.
Some of the topics discussed included the reimbursements of customs duties, recent developments in the Philippines regarding fertilizers and implementation of licensing requirements related to fish and marine products .
“Marine products is particularly important to Norwegian exporters (of) salmon. New regulations are being considered and developed (in the Philippines) and from EFTA perspective, it’s important for us that these rules and regulations also are in accordance with our agreement ,” Lester said.
Lester since the Philippines-EFTA FTA entered into force in 2018, imports to EFTA countries from the Philippines jump to almost 300 million euros. – Irma Isip