Monday, 30 March 2015 Brussels Belgium
PH Exports benefit from duty-free access to EU beginning Dec 25
Monday, 05 January 2015 09:57    Bookmark and Share PDF Print E-mail



Beginning December 25th, Philippine exports can enjoy duty-free access into the European Union market through the Union's "tariff preferences under the special incentive arrangements for sustainable development and good governance", more popularly known as the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (or GSP+).

GSP+ privileges extend duty-free access to Philippine exports in 66 per cent of all product tariff lines, including fisheries products and garments.

The grant of GSP+ privileges is expected to generate 200,000 new jobs in the rural areas of the Philippines in the early years of implementation.

The Philippines applied for GSP+ privileges on 28 February 2014, after the European Commission determined that the Philippines was eligible to apply based on the following criteria: vulnerability of the country's economy resulting from a lack of diversification in its exports, and its ratification of 27 core international human rights conventions.

The European Union completed its assessment and approval procedures for the Philippine application on December 18th, and the Union's decision to grant GSP+ privileges was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on December 24th.

Collectively, the 28 Member States of the European Union rank as the Philippines' fourth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to USD 12.8 billion in 2013.  The EU is also the Philippines' fourth largest export market, accounting for 11.56 per cent of total Philippine exports. END

Turnover ceremony of the Bangsamoro Basic Law
Thursday, 11 September 2014 13:41    Bookmark and Share PDF Print E-mail

Speech of Pres. Aquino at the turnover ceremony of the Bangsamoro Basic Law

[This is the English translation of the speech delivered at Malacañan Palace on September 10, 2014]

At the beginning of our term, we told our countrymen that it was possible, once again, to hope. Today, we have proven that not only did we hope, we fulfilled our collective aspirations. We have taken yet another step towards a more peaceful and more progressive Mindanao. Through this proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, we are giving shape to the enactment of the principles behind our Framework Agreement.

In my most recent State of the Nation Address, I asked Congress for their understanding. We needed enough time to study every provision in our proposed bill. This was a long and thorough process, because we went through every detail involved in fulfilling our shared desires for the Bangsamoro region. I assure you: The Bangsamoro Basic Law was crafted to be fair, just, and acceptable to all, whether they are Moros, Lumads, or Christians.

I extend my gratitude to the leaders and the members of the MILF, under the leadership of Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Mohagher Iqbal, for their solidarity, and to the hardworking and persistent members of our peace panel, led by Secretary Ging Deles and Chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer. I also thank the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the stakeholders, the members of the Cabinet, and our partners abroad, who have helped us write a new chapter of peace and unity in our country's history.

Trust brought us here. Throughout the negotiations, I saw that each side genuinely wished to reach an agreement. We have proven that, in a situation where one does not consider who has the upper hand, one can truly give rise to a situation where everyone wins.

Now that we have a proposed bill, I fully believe that it is in accordance with our Constitution and with the principles of our Framework Agreement, and that it reflects our shared efforts towards growth that leaves no one behind.

To the honorable members of Congress: We understand the need to thoroughly review the proposed bill. We ask Congress, however, to pass this bill in the soonest possible time. If we are able to legislate this, we can give our Moro brothers enough time to prepare, thus enabling them to nurture the seeds of meaningful governance which were planted for the Bangsamoro.

To my Bosses: now that we have turned over the bill to Congress, let us not think that the advancement of this important legislation depends on our Representatives alone. In truth, each one of us has an important role to play in ensuring the genuine transformation of society.

We call our countrymen in Muslim Mindanao "brothers", don't we? In a typical Filipino family, has there been an instance that we have heard a parent say, "It's alright to take advantage of your brother?" As the father of our nation, it is my task to be the first to take care of the welfare of our people, and to herald a society that is truly just and equitable. Now, this I ask of you: Let us help our Filipino brethren. Indeed ARMM has been left behind. This is why we seek to promote fairness, especially as regards our countrymen in the margins, so that they themselves, as empowered individuals, may have the wherewithal to contribute to our collective growth. As I have said in the past: We must boost them up, to allow them to catch up.

To our countrymen in Luzon and Visayas, may it be clear: Change will only come about if we trulybear it in our minds and our hearts. Let us now open our arms for our Muslim countrymen. Let us respect the beliefs and rights of the indigenous peoples of our land. Instead of choosing to spread negative news and unfounded assumptions about our southernmost region, let us harness our knowledge and time to fully understand the history, culture, and narratives of our fellow countrymen. By so doing, we will further discover that we are really the same: like us, they aspire to see their children graduate one day, they dream of a life without fear at worry, and they desire to succeed as individuals. Clearly: Now, more than ever, trust reigns among brothers. We need to strengthen that trust, by supporting the immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Let us not let go of the opportunity to bequeath a new future to the Land of Promise, and thus I urge you to walk with us as we march towards this realization.

Once Congress passes the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the next step will be a plebiscite for the people of the Bangsamoro. The only appeal I make to our brothers and sisters who will vote in this plebiscite: Study well the provisions of the Law. Your understanding and your participation will be the best defense against those who seek to sow doubt in our agenda of a just and lasting peace. These will give you an even greater ability to take part in the transition to a strong Bangsamoro government in 2016.

To those who still have concerns about the success of this initiative, I can only say: Now when so many more Filipinos are standing and working arm-in-arm, from Moros, to Lumads, to Christians-is this the time for us to doubt ourselves? Is this the time to fear change? While we have no control over the future, I am confident, and I know that others present here today will join me in guaranteeing: it is through our full trust and our refusal to let go of hope that we will be able to realize our dreams.

This Saturday evening, I will be traveling to Europe. The Bangsamoro Basic Law and the rest of our achievements in the area of peace are among the achievements that I will proudly share with the leaders and our countrymen in Spain, Belgium, France, and Germany. I will tell them the story of how, through trusting and working with each other, we have reached this point in our history. I will tell them that, while our success is not complete yet, we are all confident that our collective efforts towards a more progressive and more peaceful Philippines will continue.

It is clear: We have been given a rare chance to prove, not only to ourselves, but to the entire world, that we can achieve what was once thought to be impossible. When we arrived at a fork in the road, we chose to do what was right and what was just, and today, lasting peace and inclusive growth are within our sights. Let us continue to work together, so that we may bequeath to the next generations a Philippines that is free from conflict, that bears the mark of lasting progress, and that enjoys the admiration of all corners of the world.

Thank you, and good day.

Visit to PH of HRVP Catherine Ashton
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 15:33    Bookmark and Share PDF Print E-mail


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,

Good afternoon.

I am pleased to welcome Her Excellency, Lady Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, on her first visit to the Philippines. 

The visit of Lady Ashton is taking place at a time when the Philippines and the European Union are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. This visit allows us to reflect on the progress in our bilateral relationship and also to discuss how to further build on these achievements.

Our half century of partnership has been anchored on the shared values of democracy, respect for the rule of law, promotion and the protection of human dignity and human rights, among others. Our shared values have underpinned growth in bilateral trade which amounted to US$12.5B last year, an increase of about 18% from 2012. The EU is the Philippines' largest source of foreign direct investment with some US$10.2B or about 1/3 of our total investment stock. 

Lady Ashton recently co-chaired the 20th ASEAN-EU Ministers Meeting on 23 July 2014 in Brussels which I had the honor of attending. In her intervention as Head of the EU delegation and on behalf of 28 EU ministers present, Lady Ashton called on all parties to clarify and pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law, opposing any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion, or force. She supported the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including through legal dispute settlement mechanisms.

The final Co-Chairs' Statement of the Ministerial Meeting stated the following, and I quote: "The Ministers underscored the importance of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded commerce, the exercise of self-restraint, including the use or threat to use of force, and the resolution of disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS)."

Philippines-EU partnership is further reflected in addressing one of the country's pressing concerns - disaster risk reduction and management. This partnership was demonstrated in the co-chairing by the Philippines and EU of the ASEM Manila Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management last June. The Conference adopted the Post-Haiyan Tacloban Declaration which serves as a template on best practices in DRRM which should be reflected in the crafting of the global architecture for disaster risk reduction next year, otherwise known as the Hyogo Framework of Action 2.

The Philippines-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) I signed with Lady Ashton in 2012 has garnered more than half of the required signatures for ratification or concurrence to come into force. In providing a general framework for bilateral relations, we expect the PCA to elevate our partnership to an even higher level.

We also discussed this morning EU's interest in the search for lasting peace in Mindanao, both as member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and as an active supporter of developmental initiatives. The EU's involvement has been on issues such as the economy, good governance, human society development, environment and crisis management. I took the opportunity to confirm the commitment of President Aquino for a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

We agreed to further boost our economic relations, noting that now is the best time for European businesses to invest in the Philippines in view of our relatively high growth rate, the upgrades by rating agencies, and the good governance policies of the President. In this connection, I brought to the attention of the High Representative and Vice President of the EU the importance of seafaring and fisheries to the country. On our application to the GSP+ scheme of the EU, I noted that this has been approved by the European Commission and that the application has now been transmitted to the European Council and, thereafter, the European Parliament for their respective deliberation and approval.

Finally, I take this public opportunity to express our appreciation to the EU for giving us a 6-month extension to fully operationalize various measures and reforms to fully meet the country's obligation under the STCW Convention, thereby ensuring that continued employment of approximately 82,000 Filipinos aboard EU-flagged vessels. END


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Philippine Embassy in Brussels


297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels



Trunkline: (+32) 02 340 33 77 to 78

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Zafrullah G. Masahud

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Pit Laquian

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For more information on the Philippine agricultural sector, please visit the following website:






Republic Act No. 10590 An Act Amending Republic Act No. 9189, entitled "An Act Providing for a System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens of the Philippines Abroad, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for other Purposes" (Click here)






For more details, please visit the Embassy's Consular Section, or contact us through telephone numbers 02.340.3377 to 78 or email us at


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