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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The Philippines and the European Union (EU) signed a landmark treaty on Wednesday, July 11, that will pave the way for a full-scale free trade agreement between the two countries.
The Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) provides legal basis for Manila and EU states and territories to cooperate in a wide range of areas. It was signed by foreign affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton Catherine Ashton at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ meeting held this week in the Cambodian capital.
“I believe the PCA provides an opportunity and basis for the Philippines and EU to work closely together in addressing real challenges such as the global financial crisis, migration, the pursuit of development goals, expanding trade and investment, improving development cooperation, and promoting international peace and security, and human rights,” said del Rosario.
The PCA is a prerequisite to an FTA that will enhance trade and investment opportunities between the Philippines and EU.
The treaty also calls for a dialogue and cooperation on various political and development issues: peace process, conflict prevention, human rights, security, drug trafficking and money laundering, migrant’s welfare, employment, disaster risk management, energy, environment, agriculture, regional development, tourism, health and education.
Philippine trade with the EU in 2011 totalled US$10.4 billion. The country also received about P2.5 billion in development assistance from the EU last year.
The treaty was first broached in 2004, when the EU proposed to upgrade its relationship with ASEAN. Officials from the European Commission and the Philippines carried out preliminary talks during the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) in Helsinki in September 2006 and Beijing in October 2008, but formal negotiations began in Manila in February 2009. An agreement was reached in the seventh round of negotiations in Brussels in June 2010.
The EU has signed similar PCAs with Indonesia and Vietnam. It is currently in talks with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. – Rappler.com
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana
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