December 16, 2022
MANILA – BRUSSELS—President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants the proposed free trade agreement between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) to materialize soon to bolster mutual economic development.
In a speech during the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-EU Commemorative Summit on Wednesday, the President said he wanted “a closer economic cooperation” between the Philippines and the EU.
“At this time of economic recovery from the ravages caused by the pandemic and the current threats on the supply chain, I hope to see the proposed Philippine-EU Free Trade Agreement move beyond scoping negotiations soon,” he told European leaders.
He said that with the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership amongst Asia-Pacific countries, the EU “misses out on the benefit of having a similar agreement with Asean.”
The President also urged Asean and EU leaders to unite in mitigating climate change.
Mr. Marcos said climate change “threatens to radically transform for the worse” many vulnerable Asean landscapes.
He called on EU member states to continue supporting the Asean Centre for Biodiversity, which is based in the Philippines and manages the preservation of all 51 Asean Heritage Parks.
President Marcos also pushed for defense and cybersecurity cooperation during his bilateral meetings with Spain, Czechia, Estonia and The Netherlands here.
Mr. Marcos and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte agreed to bolster ties in defense and water management.
Rutte invited the President to two conferences on artificial intelligence and water management in The Netherlands next year.
In his meeting with Czechia Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Mr. Marcos sought Czech assistance in the transfer of technology in the defense sector.
Meanwhile, Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas invited the President to visit Estonia to learn more about digitizing government processes and addressing cyberattacks.
During their bilateral meeting, Mr. Marcos sought Estonia’s assistance in the Philippines’ digital transformation.
The European leader told Mr. Marcos that “all the public services are digital” in Estonia.
In another bilateral meeting, Spanish President Pedro Sanchez, who called the Philippines, a “priority country,” assured Mr. Marcos of “institutional support” and assistance to “strengthen the dialogue” in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.