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Philippines hopes to launch EU free trade negotiations 'very soon'

Agence France-Presse
Philippines hopes to launch EU free trade negotiations 'very soon'
A crane stacks shipping containers of Philippine products for export at the international container port in Manila on Sept. 11, 2012.
AFP / Jay Directo

MELBOURNE, Australia — The Philippines hopes to launch formal free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union "very soon", Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told AFP in an interview Monday.

The Southeast Asian nation, which depends heavily on trade with China, wants to expand its economic relations with other countries to achieve greater "resiliency", the minister said.

"We're hoping... to very soon begin free trade negotiations with the EU," Manalo said.

The Philippines has been in preliminary talks about a free trade deal with the 27-nation bloc for months.

A previous effort almost a decade ago stalled amid EU concerns about then president Rodrigo Duterte's deadly drug war.

"What we're really aiming for is the notion of greater economic resilience," the minister said, underscoring the importance of being able to adapt to "sudden changes", whether man-made or natural.

The Philippines is focused on creating "greater economic security and economic resiliency, which in turn contributes to your own national security", Manalo said.

The EU and the Philippines would seek to establish greater cooperation in the area of critical minerals, the minister said, using existing supply chains but with more processing activity in the Philippines.

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