MANILA - (UPDATE) Philippine exports to the European Union may reach $10 billion this year, exceeding expectations, as the country benefited from the bloc's incentive scheme for developing markets, a Filipino cabinet official said Tuesday.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said trade relations between Manila and Brussels were unaffected by President Rodrigo Duterte's criticism of the EU.
Shipments to the EU grew 36 percent in the first half, compared to the same period last year, Lopez said. Exports to EU reached $6.97 billion in 2016, according to official data.
“The delegation continues to operate and function normally and the EU is going to work constructively and productively” Lopez said.
The EU is reviewing the country's privileges under the GSP+ or generalized scheme of preferences.
Philippine exports to the EU include coconut-oil based products, processed pineapples, canned tuna, rubber and even bicycle parts, solar panels, printers and aerospace parts, trade officials said.
"The core of our message is to reiterate the values of mutual respect for our sovereignty as nations. We don’t interfere as well in the domestic affairs of other nations," Lopez said.
The EU's Ambassador to the Philippines, Franz Jessen, said both sides were working to promote "shared interests."
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Guenter Taus, said there was no reason for European investors to leave the country.
He said investors were "immune" to the President's statements.
"We all have rocky roads sometimes. The EU Chamber of Commerce, we have been in the country for 40 years and we intend to stay for another 40 years if not 400," Taus said.
Despite the stern warning, Lopez also reiterated the government’s commitment to uphold the rule of law, preserve human rights and to continue participating in the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union.