Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday sought the help of his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Rollán, in crafting a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Union (EU). In a news release on Tuesday, Zubiri said their discussions during the parliamentary visit to Spain included enhanced trade as both nationscelebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations. "Let us build on 500 years of friendship and history,' Zubiri told the Spanish Senate. 'The foundations of our friendship are anchored on our shared history, our shared culture and our shared Catholic faith. Though we are proud to be our own independent Republic, we are also grateful for our heritage and our Hispanidad,' he added. Zubiri thanked Spain, which currently leads the EU, for the extension of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+). Zubiri was with Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senators Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, JV Ejercito and Mark Villar. The meeting was also attended by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Philippe Lhuillier and Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Miguel Utray. In response, Rollán said that Spain's doors are always open for the Philippines, adding that the visit is a welcome opportunity to reinforce the already excellent relations between the Philippines and Spain. He also stressed the need for the governments of the two countries to work together to rise from the ill effects of the pandemic. Rollán said Spain is well-positioned to offer support in the post-pandemic period as the head of the EU. The GSP+ allows about 6,000 Filipino products to enter the EU duty-free. In a statement last year, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron said the renewal of the GSP + would directly affect the possible resumption of FTA talks with the Philippines. Veron said the EU is contemplating the resumption of FTA talks with a Southeast Asian country which could be Malaysia, Thailand, or the Philippines.
Source: Philippines News Agency