PH, EU agree to expand trade, cooperate on maritime security

PH, EU agree to expand trade, cooperate on maritime security
Photo from the Presidential Communications Office.
  • The Philippines and the European Commission affirmed bilateral ties to deepen relations
  • Both agreed on the expansion of trade, cooperation on climate change, maritime security and green economy
  • President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. welcomed scoping exercises for PH-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations
  • Marcos thanked the EU for extending the recognition of certificates for Filipino seafarers working on EU-flagged vessels

The Philippine government and the European Commission affirmed bilateral ties, agreeing to expand trade and enhance cooperation on climate change, maritime security and the green economy during the official visit of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the Philippines.

“During our meeting, we discussed the economic relations with particular focus on revitalizing trade between our two regions,” President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said in a speech on July 31, calling the bilateral meeting “successful and productive”.

The occasion served as the first-ever visit of an EU Commission President to the Philippines. Von der Leyen ends her Philippine visit today, August 1.

Marcos said he also welcomed the conduct of scoping exercises between the European Commission and the Philippines toward negotiations for a Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement.

“The European Union is already your fourth largest trading partner and we are the first foreign investor. But we can do so much more. So I’m very glad that we have decided to relaunch negotiations for Free Trade Agreement,” Von der Leyen said in her speech.

“Our teams will get to work right now on setting the right conditions so that we can get back to the negotiations. A free trade agreement has huge potential for both of us in terms of growth and in terms of jobs,” she added.

Marcos also thanked the EU Commission “for their dedication to extend the recognition of STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) certificates issued by the Philippines”, emphasizing it has a positive impact on the employment of over 50,000 Filipino seafarers working onboard EU-flagged vessels.

RELATED READ: EC extends recognition of PH seafarers’ certificate

Meanwhile, Von der Leyen said the EU underlines the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling on the South China Sea as legally binding. “We are ready to strengthen the cooperation with the Philippines on maritime security in the region by sharing information, conducting threat assessment, and building the capacity of your National Coast Watch Center and your Coast Guard,” she said.

On development cooperation, Marcos said the Philippines and EU “committed to conclude an agreement on the Green Economy Program in the Philippines, a grant worth 60 million euros, which aims to support the Philippines in areas such as circular economy, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation.” – Michael Barcas