EU ambassador reminds Duterte: Europe is biggest foreign investor, No. 2 export market of Philippines
The European Union (EU) is keen to increase bilateral trade and investment with the Philippines to support its inclusive growth agenda crucial to poverty reduction.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said the bloc believed that trade and investment as “answers to poverty and as tools for inclusive growth.”
“This positive agenda comes with an open dialogue to ensure that our partners reap the benefits of our trade relations. Doing business with Europe is about creating decent jobs, investing in skills and developing opportunities for small businesses,” he said during the EU-Philippine Business Summit on Tuesday.
Jessen made the statement five days after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to expel European ambassadors within 24 hours after he accused their respective governments of plotting to expel the Philippines from the United Nations. Malacanang later clarified that Duterte gave no ultimatum.
Jessen noted the European economy was growing at a healthy rate of 2.4 percent, resulting in increased trade with the rest of the world, including the Philippines.
The ambassador said the Philippines was enjoying increased access to the EU’s vast market especially with its Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status.
Under the EU’s GSP+, 6,274 tariff lines are entitled to zero-duty when exported to the 28 EU member-countries.
Jessen said the EU is the second largest export market for Filipino exporters, with strong growth noted in sectors benefiting from GSP+ trade preferences, such as agri-food.
“In this context, the EU continues to be as is growing its importance as a major trade partner for the Philippines. Our bilateral relations will continue to support the Philippines’ development agenda,” he noted.
The ambassador further said the EU was still the largest provider of foreign direct investment in the Philippines.
“We create jobs, not only in Manila, but all over the country,” Jessen said.
“In trade and economics, size matters, living in Manila as most of us do, we welcome and are impressed by the growth figures here. A growth rate of 6.5 percent signifies important economic opportunities,” he added. (PNA)