ASEAN, EU eye free trade deal amid 'growing protectionism'


Posted at Mar 10 2017 05:45 PM

Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - ASEAN and the European Union (EU) are looking to forge a free trade agreement to further boost the economic engagement of the two regions, chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting and Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Friday.

The two regions have agreed to begin preparations to resume talks on a free trade agreement amid uncertainties from "growing protectionist and inward-looking policy stance," Lopez said.

“In order to reinforce the momentum, the AEM and EU Trade Commissioner tasked the senior economic officials to develop a framework encompassing the parameters of a future ASEAN-EU FTA,” he said.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom said win-win trade agreements between the ASEAN and EU is possible.

However, Malstrom expressed concern over the possible reinstatement of the death penalty in the Philippines. 

"We have an agreement, GSP plus, which opens up good trade possibilities, but subject to international conventions, including those on human rights," said Malstrom. -- with a report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News