By Roy Mabasa
Several ambassadors and diplomats from the European Union (EU) countries will explore possible trade and investment opportunities in Southern Philippines during this year’s Davao Investment Conference from June 20 to 21.
“Our visit is a reaffirmation of our commitment and willingness to identify possible investment ventures or trade partnerships between the EU and the Southern Philippines”, said EU Ambassador to the Manila Franz Jessen.
Aside from Jessen, also attending the Davao event are Amb. Jozsef Bencze (Hungary), Amb. Saskia de Lang (Netherlands), Amb. Harald Fries (Sweden), Charges de Affaires, a.i. Mihai Sion (Romania) and Special Envoy to the EU Avelino Cruz.
Diplomats representing the Embassies of Belgium and France will likewise grace the conference.
Jessen emphasized that the EU supports the government’s focus on rural and regional economic development especially in regions such as in Mindanao.
While in Davao, the European ambassadors and diplomats are expected to meet with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and to engage in discussion the business executives from Southern Mindanao Business Council led by Chairperson Tony Peralta.
The EU envoy noted there are very promising prospects between the EU and Philippines’ business and trade relations which can be looked at during the event itself and the exchanges with the business community in Southern Philippines.
“The EU continues to see the Philippines as a large, fast-growing market although there is further room for the latter to intensify and to mobilize EU traders and investors in line with the size and potentiality of the Philippine market”, he said.
He expressed hope that more European businesses will invest in the Philippines to help create more quality jobs for the Filipinos in the near future.
At the same time, Ambassador Jessen will also urge Filipino business executives and entrepreneurs to maximize the trade benefits being offered by the EU’s Generalized Scheme Preferences (GSP+) for Filipino exports to the European bloc countries.
In terms of Philippine exports, Mindanao products – particularly its agricultural sector – have been benefiting from the GSP+ over the last five years since 2014.
For 2018 alone, almost €2 billion worth of Philippine products, mostly agri-food items, were exported to the EU at zero tariffs.