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EU, Philippines to begin free trade talks


Eu head quarterThe European Union and the Philippines will begin free trade talks early next year as the bloc builds on accords with Singapore and Vietnam, a senior EU official said Tuesday.

“Launching negotiations with the Philippines will represent an important milestone in EU-Philippine relations and (is) further evidence of the EU’s commitment to Southeast Asia,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said in a statement.

“The Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region in recent years. We need to make sure our companies enjoy the right conditions to seize the great potential of that market of 100 million consumers,” Malmstroem said.

In addition to the Philippines, the 28-nation EU is in free trade talks with Malaysia and Thailand, having concluded deals with Singapore last year and Vietnam this year.

All five are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar.

EU efforts to negotiate an overall free trade accord with ASEAN have stalled, with the focus now put on bilateral deals.

The EU exported goods worth 6.8 billion euros to the Philippines last year and imported 5.7 billion euros, the European Commission said.

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