DON’T BE RUSHED INTO TRADE DEAL WITH E.U., THINK-TANK WARNS

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation said that the Philippine government should not  rush into negotiations for a partnership cooperation agreement (PCA) with the European Union (EU).

IBON research head Sonny Africa said the EU Ambassador’s statement that the Philippines was slow in negotiating for a PCA compared with neighboring countries Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand was merely a way of pitting Asean member-countries against each other to coerce and rush them into concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU.

Africa pointed out that the ultimate agenda behind such an EU-ASEAN FTA was to liberalize Southeast Asia ‘s services sectors to European corporations, citing that three-quarters of the EU’s gross domesti c p roduct is in the services sector.

This could result in privatization of vital sectors such as water, Africa said, citing the EU’s two water related programs– the EU Water Facility and the EU Water Initiative. Civil society organizations have accused both programs of favoring privatization over state or community operations of water utilities.

Africa also pointed out that the EU’s moves to complete an FTA with ASEAN are also an expression of its rivalry with the US to expand its economic sphere of influence in the region.

With the slow developments in the World Trade Organization, developed countries like the US , Japan and EU members are now pushing for bilateral free trade agreements to hasten economic liberalization in developing countries and gain unhampered access to their markets. However, poor nations have witnessed their livelihood get worse from decades of free trade, while developed countries continue to protect their economic advantages.

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