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United Kingdom makes a strong pitch for PH-EU free trade

By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Sep. 27, 2013 at 12:01am
THE British Embassy in Manila on Thursday pushed for the signing of a free trade agreement between the Philippines and the European Union, saying that could boost each other’s economies.

The United Kingdom, a member of the 27-member bloc, supported the first in a three-series Southeast Asian trade forums “that seek to help small and medium enterprises benefit from trading arrangements,” which was held at the Asian Institute of Management.

The second and third sessions of the forum will be happening in Indonesia and Thailand.

During the forum, British charge d’affaires Trevor Lewis noted how the project could help small and medium enterprises “raise the utilization of existing concessions with its FTA partners to boost the country’s gains from global trade.”

The project supports the UK’s continued work to ensure SMEs develop and maintain trade and investment openness, a statement from the embassy said.

Studies have shown that there is a 20-percent increase in trade openness that translates into a 4-percent increase in per capita income.

Lewis said the UK was looking forward to starting trade negotiations with the Philippines.

Some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have already signed “or are close to signing” an FTA with the EU.

Asean is composed of the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei.

The FTA will open doors for zero tariff and lower taxes on the products traded between Manila and EU nations.

The Philippines has been talking with the EU on the establishment of a free trade agreement, but there have been no positive signs to the talks that have been going on for years.

Ambassador Donald Dee, the chairman of the Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade, which supported the forum at the AIM, enumerated the opportunities that an FTA can open for small and medium enterprises in the country.

A representative from the Tariff Commission and Customs, on the other hand, discussed “the simplified, step-by-step procedure on how exporters should apply for tariff rulings to determine their product classification and how to apply for a Certificate of Origin that is necessary when availing oneself of FTA preferential tariffs.

Lewis said the focus on small and medium enterprises was “deliberate” because the project aimed to help these businesses “ride the waves of high economic growth.”
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