EU, Philippines to launch negotiations for free trade agreement

BRUSSELS, Dec. 22 (PNA/Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) and the Philippines agreed on Tuesday to start negotiations for an EU-Philippines free trade agreement (FTA).

The EU said in a statement the first round of negotiations was expected to take place in the first half of 2016 in the Philippines.

The statement said the two sides agreed to conclude an agreement that covers a broad range of issues, including elimination of customs duties and other barriers to trade, services and investment, access to public procurement markets, as well as additional disciplines in the area of competition and protection of intellectual property rights.

The prospective agreement will also include a comprehensive chapter that will ensure that closer economic relations between the EU and the Philippines.

"Launching negotiations with the Philippines will represent an important milestone in the EU-Philippines relations and a further evidence of the EU's commitment to Southeast Asia," said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

She added that the Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region in recent years thus the EU hope to seize the great potential of that market of 100 million consumers.

The Philippines is one of the 10 members of the Association of South East Asia (ASEAN), as well as the fifth largest economy in the region and the second biggest market in ASEAN. It is also the fifth country of the ASEAN to start negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with the EU. (PNA/Xinhua)

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