Manila: (Agencies: 9/2/2009): After three years of exploratory talks, the Philippines and the European Union will formally start on Monday the first round of negotiations for an expanded bilateral agreement, which aims to open greater economic, political, security and social cooperation between Manila and Europe, the Philippine government said Sunday.
Since 2006, the Philippines and the EU began informal talks on a draft agreement, known as Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA), and exchanged views on specific areas such as trade, human rights, migration, security, intellectual property, counter-terrorism and the role of civil society, the Department of Foreign Affairs statement said in a statement.
The EU is the 4th largest trading partner of the Philippines, accounting for 14 percent of total trade. It is also the largest foreign investor in the Philippines and the 4th largest source of official development assistance ODA).
"The European Union is highly significant to the Philippines," the statement said.
"There is a clear need for deeper engagement with the EU to further open up opportunities for trade, investment and development cooperation," it added.
The Philippines will be the 5th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member to begin negotiations on the PCA with the EU. Negotiations have been completed with Indonesia and are currently at an advanced stage with Singapore and Thailand.
The EU has recently begun negotiations with Vietnam and is expected to soon start formal talks with Malaysia and Brunei.