ECCP: Political row unlikely to hurt Philippines-EU trade relations

March 30, 2017 News

CEBU, Philippines - The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) dismissed impressions of probable trade relation glitches between the European Union (EU) and the Philippines in light of the current political squabble.

"While it is surely not easy to circumnavigate political aspects all together, companies established here do understand and can segregate business from politics, this is of course more difficult to verbalize towards new potential investors," said ECCP president Guenter Taus in a statement furnished to The FREEMAN.

Taus' pronouncement followed after the EU summoned a Philippine envoy early this week to explain an expletive-laden tirade by President Rodrigo Duterte, who threatened to hang EU officials for opposing his efforts to re-impose the death penalty.

The EU's external action service, the equivalent of a foreign office, said it hauled Charge d'Affaires Alan Deniega in its Brussels headquarters to provide "an explanation for the recent, unacceptable comments of President Duterte."

Duterte, who has lashed out at the EU repeatedly for raising human rights concerns over his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, said in a speech last week that the EU had proposed a "health-based solution" to the drug problem that involved dispensing methampetamine, locally known as shabu, cocaine or heroin.

Duterte branded the supposed EU proposal a "government-sponsored idiotic exercise."

While this tension alarms many of probable disconnection of good trade relations including the implementation zero tariff accommodation of products exported to EU member countries, ECCP maintains its cordial reaction on this matter.

"Reading the full EU joint motion for resolution it becomes clear that these are matter-of-fact issues on current affairs in the Philippines. There is no mention or threats for removal of any privileges, or ceasing of any negotiation," said Guenter.

Even during last week’s visit of Commissioner Malmstroem, he said there was a clear statement that the EU will be guided, (as it is governed by very clear rules and regulations set) by the EU parliament.

As the subject of death penalty is still pending in the Senate, Taus stressed that it would be mere speculation to predict an outcome of the vote, and any subsequent findings or actions that would be taken after that.

"As stated many times before, we at the ECCP have never engaged in politics. We are a bilateral chamber and we focus on business. As we have been established 40 years ago, we have worked with all governments since, and we will continue to do so. We are working with current member companies, and advise incoming potential investors on the economic side, not the political aspects," he added. (FREEMAN)