The Philippine government is actively pursuing the restart of negotiations with the European Union (EU) to establish a Free Trade Agreement that would grant duty-free access to Philippine goods.
Since 2020, investments from Europe have been declining, with investors even withdrawing $97.47 million in direct investments in 2021.
Europe’s concerns regarding human rights in the Philippines, particularly during the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte, have led some companies to adopt policies against trading and investing in jurisdictions with poor human rights records.
In a meeting with the European Union-ASEAN Business Council on May 22, 2023, Trade Secretary Fred Pascual reiterated the government’s growth strategy focused on enhancing trade and investment. The objective is to stimulate job creation and poverty reduction by boosting the global position of Philippine export sectors and attracting investments in strategic areas.
The existing agreement between the Philippines and the EU, known as the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), is set to expire at the end of 2023. The Philippines has been benefiting from the EU GSP+ since December 2014, but prior to that, it was a beneficiary of the standard GSP scheme.