President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. welcomes European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Manila. Her Philippine visit from July 31 until August 1, 2023 coincides with the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the European Union. The EU Commission President’s visit also aims to strengthen the EU-PH relations. [Photo credit: Presidential Communications Office]
MANILA, Philippines – The German Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) welcomes the announcement by the European Union (EU) regarding their intention to explore the relaunch of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Philippines. 
GPCCI Executive Director, Mr Christopher Zimmer said, "We are glad to see that the EU and the Philippines taking concrete steps in commencing talks of a sustainable Free Trade Agreement.”
“This development reinforces the importance of the Philippines and presents exciting opportunities paving the way for deeper trade ties.”
The decision was made during the visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the Philippines from July 31 to August 1. Her visit aims to strengthen the relations and strategic partnership between the EU and the Philippines, and to accelerate these to a higher level with regard to their common fight against climate change, transformation to a digital future, and security cooperation.
They plan to relaunch the formal negotiations by next year.
President Ursula von der Leyen is a Belgian-born German politician. She was the first woman to serve as Germany’s minister of defense in 2013 – 2019. In July of 2019, she became the first woman to be elected president of the European Commission.
She is also the first EU Commission President to visit the Philippines. This is not her first time though to meet President Marcos Jr. Last year, the two leaders met during the EU-ASEAN Summit in Brussels. On their first meeting in 2022, they addressed the longstanding issues on the accreditation of Filipino seafarers. Because of this, the European Commission agreed to initiate the recognition of Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCWS) issued by the Philippines. President Marcos Jr. mentioned that this has a positive impact on the employment of over 50,000 Filipino seafarers working onboard EU marine vessels.
President von der Leyen’s visit also coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and the EU Commission.
According to the press release of GPCCI, the EU and the Philippines will commence a bilateral 'scoping process' to gauge their mutual understanding of the future FTA. A successful conclusion of this process, followed by consultations with EU Member States, could provide a pathway for the resumption of FTA negotiations.
GPCCI Senior Vice President Marie Antoniette Mariano stated, “As per DTI Secretary Pascual’s press briefing today, the scoping mission is expected to be done by the end of 2023. We look forward to seeing the FTA in motion soon as it benefits many sectors not only from Germany, but also in the EU such as renewable energy, business process outsourcing, manufacturing, and so on.”
European Commission stated that the envisioned comprehensive FTA between the EU and the Philippines aims to encompass ambitious market access commitments, efficient sanitary and phyto-sanitary procedures, and robust protection of intellectual property rights, including Geographical Indicators. The central focus of the agreement will be sustainability while incorporating stringent and enforceable disciplines on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) in line with the Commission's TSD review Communication of June 2022. These provisions will uphold high standards for workers' rights, environmental protection, and the pursuit of ambitious climate goals.
Mr Stefan Schmitz, President of German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
(GPCCI) [File Photo by Marcelle Villegas]
GPCCI President Stefan Schmitz stated, “We are delighted to witness this significant development, which holds the potential to foster even stronger economic ties and fruitful collaboration between Germany, the EU, and the Philippines. We eagerly look forward to the prospect of the much-awaited EU-PH FTA that will definitely create new opportunities for businesses and drive mutual growth.”
GPCCI / AHK Philippinen belongs to the international network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) which is represented by 150 offices in 93 countries. GPCCI is the official representation of German businesses in the Philippines; a bilateral membership organization with around 300 members; and a service provider to companies in their market entry and expansion.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Yves Aguilos
Head of Government Affairs and Data Protection Officer
German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Tel: +63 (2) 5198110 loc. 822
Mob : +63 917 713 1516
 Press Release of German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (Aug. 1, 2023).
“German-Philippine Chamber welcomes EU-PH Intent to Explore Free Trade Agreement”.
 Presidential Communications Office News Release (July 31, 2023).
"Von Der Leyen on PH visit: I'm here to accelerate a new era of cooperation between us"
Top photo - https://pco.gov.ph/news_releases/von-der-leyen-on-ph-visit-im-here-to-accelerate-a-new-era-of-cooperation-between-us/