14:37 | 29/12/2015 Cooperation
The European Union and the Philippines agreed to start negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) on December 22.
In a statement, the EU said both sides share the ambition to conclude an agreement that covers a broad range of issues, including elimination of customs duties and other barriers to trade, services and investment, access to public procurement markets.
The prospective agreement will also include a comprehensive chapter that will ensure closer economic relations between the EU and the Philippines in tandem with environmental protection and social development.
Launching negotiations with the Philippines will represent an important milestone in the EU-Philippines relations and a further evidence of the EU's commitment to Southeast Asia, said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.
The first round of negotiations is expected to take place in the first half of 2016 in the Philippines.
The EU has signed FTAs with Singapore in 2014, and Vietnam in 2015./.