European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Vice President Henny J. Schumacher said in his statement yesterday that the Philippines will be left behind its Southeast Asian neighbors if it does not sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) by the year 2015.

ECCP is convincing all business leaders to encourage the government to move ahead and  start negotiating with the European Union for the free-trade deal.

Mr. Schumacher said that based on the current trends, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietman could sign the free-trade agreement. Although the trade department could not be reached for any comments regarding this.

Singapore concluded the talks with EU last month while Thailand is set to accept the draft for the Thailand-EU FTA.

The Trade Department is studying the possible FTA between the Philippines and EU. Both parties should sign the partnership agreement on July 11. If this will push through, it will be  the first step for the possible free trade agreement.

Negotiations for the agreement were started last February 9, 2009 and the first agreement between the Philippines and the Europe was started in 1980.

There is urgency in agreement because the Philippine export sector is now encountering problems with the European market, and this situation can worsen once ASEAN neighbors sign their respective FTA with European Union.

On June 27, Vietnam will sign the partnership agreement while Indonesia became the first ASEAN country that signed the agreement with EU last November 2009.

Source: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Faster-action-urged-for-free-trade-deals&id=64320