By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
Nov. 24, 2007
NINE European Union parliamentarians on Friday reaffirmed the EU’s “abiding interest” in the Philippines and batted for a free trade agreement between EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at the end of their six-day visit to the country.
A briefer issued by the office of Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the European Commission delegation to the Philippines, said an independent study suggests considerable economic benefits will be derived by both parties from an EU-Asean free trade agreement.
“Asean could see its exports to the EU rise by 18.5 percent and expect economic gains equivalent to 2 percent of its GDP by 2020. The EU meanwhile could see its exports to Asean increase by 24 percent – increasing total EU global exports by almost 2 percent,” said the study.
The study said Asean is the EU’s fifth largest export market and fifth largest trading partner while the EU is the second largest trading partner for most Asean member-countries after the US. Asean exports to the EU account for about 13 percent of its total exports. EU exports to ASEAN account for around 4 percent of its total exports.
The EU parliamentary delegation included Hartmut Nassauer and Barbara Weiler of Germany, Giovanna Corda of Belgium, Jean-Pierre Audy of France, Szabolcs Fazakas and Csaba Ory of Hungary, Jules Maaten of Netherlands, Dariusz Grabowski of Poland and Glyn Ford of the United Kingdom.
MacDonald said it was the EU parliamentarians’ first mission to the Philippines since 2002.
During their visit, the group expressed concern over human rights violations in the Philippines. Nas-sauer, the mission chief, said he hopes the Arroyo government will take all necessary measures to solve the problem of extrajudicial killings and expressed sadness that military personnel could be involved.
Nassauer said that the killings are “influencing the picture of the Philippines in the free world.”
He said the EU mission also backs the Philippine position on Burma, especially the call for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees.