Philippines pushes for sealing of EU-Asean FTA

Jun. 06, 2007

LISBON, Portugal (via PLDT)—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed confidence Tuesday that the long-awaited Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the economic power bloc of the European Union (EU) and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) can be concluded during the Asean Summit in November.

The President said that as the present chair of the Asean, her two-day visit here was timely since Portugal will assume the presidency of the 25-member EU in July.

“We hope it (EU-Asean FTA) can be signed in November in Singapore during the (EU) presidency of Portugal, ” the President said.

Portugal is among the 12 original members of the European Community (EC).

Singapore will host the next Asean Summit in November, marking the 40 years of Asean.

President Arroyo said that since the Doha Round of Trade Talks is “not moving forward,” Asean needs to forge trade agreements with other economies to achieve economic prosperity in the region.

She said she is determined to push for the creation of a single free market encompassing the entire Asian region.

She added that the Asean targets to achieve the “one-market, one-product” strategy by 2015, or five years ahead of the 2020 schedule.

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

According to the President, the upcoming EU-Asean FTA is similar to those being mapped out with Japan, South Korea and China.

The President also said that her visit to Portugal, specifically her meetings with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva and the President of the Assembly of the Republic Jaime Gama, would further strengthen friendly ties between the Philippines and Portugal, one of the nations with a fast emerging economy and a GDP per capita of $22,677, the 34th highest in the world.

The President, however, said the interaction was “not much on trade and investments” as Portugal has a practice of not investing outside (in other countries), but she added that common concerns on tourism and the maritime industry were discussed.

The Chief Executive said she instructed Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Jose Abeto Zaide to “seek out Portuguese companies investing abroad in solar and wind energy.”

Portugal is host to the worlds largest solar power plant located in its sunny south region, as well as the worlds largest wind power plant which opened in October 2006 in the Norte region. (OPS) (

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