Competition Act boosts bid for free trade deal with EU (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines got a much-needed boost in its bid to forge a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) due to the recent passing of the Philippine Competition Act, an EU official said.

In an interview yesterday, EU competitions expert Tiina Pitkanen said the country made great strides with President Aquino’s signing into law the landmark Philippine Competition Act last July.

“Our view is, this is a big achievement. And this is one of the issues we want the Philippines to achieve before we can start this (FTA) negotiation. And that hurdle has already been crossed so we wish all the luck for the future competition authority and for the implementation of this act. But yes, I think we are there, that we can finalize our discussion on this part of the FTA,” Pitkanen said.

She added the EU is satisfied with the content of the Philippine Competition Act and sees no need for any provisions to be revised or further strengthened.

The Philippines and the EU are exploring a possible FTA with the former already showing readiness to commit to an ambitious bilateral deal.

The Philippines and the EU are currently in the scoping phase for the FTA, a requirement needed to continue discussions to define the parameters of the bilateral deal.

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The EU has been closely looking at the economic reforms being undertaken by the Philippines, among which is the passage of the competition law.

Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act seeks to promote free and fair competition in trade, industry and all commercial economic activities.

“What we usually do in any FTA, we negotiate wider principles, then we would normally list the type of anti-competitive abusive practices that we want our respective laws addressed. And then usually, we negotiate provisions on due process, procedural fairness so that the competition law should be applied in a transparent manner to all enterprises, public or private,” Pitkanen said.

The Philippines in December last year has been granted beneficiary status to the EU GSP+, a scheme which allows duty-free entry of 6,274 products to the bloc for 10 years.