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Negotiations on a free trade agreement with the Philippines to be officially launched in the coming weeks

The European Union and the Philippines are expected to officially launch the negotiations for a free trade agreement in the coming weeks, a first negotiation round is expected in the first half of the year 2016. Following a thorough scoping exercise where both the EU and the Philippines discussed their ambitions and objectives, a formal exchange of proposals might already take place during the first round, the Commission assumes. As part of the Commission’s new transparency approach to trade policy, the EU proposals should also be made public in due time.

An ambitious agreement would be beneficial for the branded clothing industry as high tariffs are currently imposed on textiles and footwear on both sides – ranging from 10% to 20% for most of the products.

The EU is an important trading partner of the Philippines, with two-way trade of more than 10 billions per year (textiles and footwear amounting to nearly 300 million euros for the year 2014). An agreement with the Philippines would further strengthen the influence of the EU in the ASEAN region. The EU is currently negotiating with two ASEAN countries – Malaysia and Thailand – and has concluded talks with Singapore and Vietnam.

Member States decided to authorise the Commission to launch the negotiations on 16 November. The mandate has not (yet) been made public, however, a written statement said, that the Council encouraged the Commission to take an ambitious approach and that the Commission is authorised to negotiate in areas that fall within Member States’ competence.

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