PEZA bullish of more EU investments with FTA in the works

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  • The Philippine Economic Zone Authority is bullish more investors from the European Union will explore trade and investment opportunities in the Philippines this year
  • PEZA director general Tereso Panga said the resumption of free trade talks between the EU and the Philippines would strengthen both economies’ bilateral trade and economic relations
  • The FTA negotiations are expected to resume second half of the year
  • There are 202 PEZA-registered projects with equity from EU countries generating about P300 billion of cumulative investments, $12 billion worth of exports, and creating more than 50,000 direct jobs

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is bullish of more investors from the European Union (EU) with the resumption of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the country and the EU.

“The FTA would strengthen both the Philippines and the EU’s bilateral trade and economic relations, making an ecosystem fit for our agile investors given that the EU is the Philippines’ fifth largest trade partner,” PEZA director general Tereso Panga said in a statement.

There are 202 PEZA-registered projects with equity from EU countries generating about P300 billion of cumulative investments, $12 billion worth of exports, and creating more than 50,000 direct jobs.

The EU and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on March 18 announced the resumption of negotiations for the PH-EU FTA, with the first round of negotiations expected to take place in the second half of this year.

The EU and the Philippines first launched negotiations for an FTA in 2015. The last negotiating round took place in 2017 but have since been placed on hold. On June 30, 2022, the current administration assumed office and has shown willingness to engage with the EU on key issues of importance.

In 2023, the EU and the Philippines launched a stocktaking exercise to assess their readiness to resume negotiations for an FTA, which was concluded at the end of 2023, confirming that a resumption of negotiations would be appropriate.

DTI earlier said the PH-EU FTA aims to provide enhanced market access for goods, services and investments, going beyond the benefits of the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+). By committing to rules and higher standards, the FTA will enhance competitiveness and foster sustainable, inclusive growth and development in the Philippines.

Under the GSP+, the Philippines has been benefitting from zero tariff on two-thirds of all product categories entering the EU market since 2014. The Philippines is proposing a four-year extension of the EU GSP+ which is set to expire by the end of the year.

“The EU FTA and the renewed GSP+ status will help the Philippines in its bid to attract EU FDI (foreign direct investment) from diverse strategic industries, catering to both domestic and export markets,” Panga said.

“As one of the investment promotion agencies in the country, this will likewise be instrumental in PEZA’s quest towards positioning the Philippines as the ideal base for offshore operations by EU companies eyeing to penetrate the much vibrant ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and AsPac (Asia Pacific) markets,” Panga added.

In relation to this, PEZA said it recently embarked on its first-ever investment mission to Madrid, Spain organized by the San Carlos Development Board, Inc., San Carlos City, Negros Occidental local government unit, Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales, and the Philippine Embassy in Madrid last March 18-23.

The highlight of the mission was the Philippine Investment Forum at the Centro de Filipinas en Madrid, where Panga made a presentation on the advantages and benefits of investing in Philippine special economic zones. The event drew some 30 participants from the Spanish business chamber and investment companies, mostly from the shipbuilding, agro-industrial, pharmaceutical, information technology- business process management, renewable energy, transport, steel and construction, water development, and tourism sectors.

Panga said the mission “has huge potentials for offshoring in the Philippines to cater to the domestic as well as regional markets particularly in the fields of shipbuilding and agro-industry.”

“With the Spanish government listing the Philippines as the only Asian country in its priority in the masterplan for Spanish cooperation, PEZA is taking this cue to attract Spanish investors into higher-value products and technologies (i.e., electronics, automotive, ship building, pharmaceutical, renewable and alternative energy, construction materials) to expand the current trade of mostly agro-based products between our two countries,” he added.

With the recent mission of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Germany and Czech Republic, PEZA said it is organizing an investment mission in partnership with the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to do follow-through on the investment leads and touch base on prospective industries and latest investment trends in Germany.

GPCCI’s AHK World Business Outlook Fall 2023 revealed German firms operating in the Philippines have the highest optimism in terms of business and hiring outlook for the next 12 months compared to their peers in other Southeast Asian countries.

“With this outlook, we will continue to push for addressing the barriers for investments and be aggressive in our investment promotion and facilitation initiatives.