PHL, EU agree to further strengthen political, economic cooperation

MANILA-- The Philippines and the European Union (EU) have reaffirmed their continued commitment to further strengthen bilateral political and economic cooperation to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth.

In a joint press statement on the 9th Philippine - EU Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) released on Wednesday, the two countries recognized that trade and investments between them have been flourishing and continue to have strong potential to expand in the future.

The EU has granted to the Philippines beneficiary country status under the EU Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) in 2014.

Such scheme allowed Philippine producers to export 6,000 products to any of the 28 member countries of the EU at zero tariff.

The bloc acknowledged the latest submission by the Philippines for the GSP+ implementation report that the Commission will submit to the European Parliament and the Council by end 2017.

The Philippines also informed the EU of the governments commitment to ensure inclusive economic growth and development, its holistic approach to the anti-illegal drugs campaign and updates on the current situation in Marawi.

In line with this, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) decided to allocate 850,000 euros (Php49 million) in emergency assistance to support civilian population affected by the events in Marawi, through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Both sides welcomed the agreement between ASEAN and China on the framework agreement for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea to be endorsed by their respective Ministers which is considered as a promising step towards negotiating an effective Code of Conduct.

The code of conduct was meant to manage tensions in the South China Sea in a peaceful way.

Several countries have made competing claims over parts or all of South China Sea, including China, Taiwan and four ASEAN members the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Further, the two countries also discussed the EU's development cooperation with the Philippines, including programs on sustainable energy, judicial reform, trade and Mindanao peace and development.

The 9th Philippines-European Union SOM took place in Manila on July 4.

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo and Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific Gunnar Wiegand of the European External Action Service co-chaired the meeting.

Source: Philippines News Agency