Economic Forum: “The European Union’s Crucial Months: Between BREXIT, Parliamentary Elections, and Unilateral Tendencies,” with Ambassador Franz Jessen

Continuing with the Economic Forum Series, this month’s event featured Ambassador Franz Jessen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines, as he discussed the current challenges of the EU, and the state of its relationship with the Philippines.

German Ambassador Dr. Gordon Kricke opened the event, welcoming all the participants. He was then followed by GPCCI President Mr. Tristan Arwen Loveres then introduced the speaker of the night, Ambassador Franz Jessen.

Ambassador Jessen began his talk on a positive note, stating that while the European Union is currently facing some challenges, on a larger scale, Europe is still doing well. He also reported that there is still no conclusion on BREXIT, nor can any substantial predictions be made due to the numerous possible outcomes. From a Philippine perspective however, the impact of BREXIT would not be as significant. The United Kingdom makes up for about eight percent of the European Union’s trade with the Philippines, and a year of reasonable growth of the EU within the Philippines would make up for this number should BREXIT occur. Ambassador Jessen mentioned that GSP+ Scheme that the Philippines currently has with the EU might be an issue but the British Government has assured exporters that they will introduce a system identical to the mentioned scheme.

In talking about its presence in the Philippines, Ambassador Jessen discussed the different activities and political engagements of the European Union within the country. This included being involved in the peace process in Mindanao. While there have been some issues in terms of dialogue with the government, the Ambassador remains positive and continues to see increasing progress. He remains hopeful on the subject of the free-trade agreement, and declares that the GSP+ status of the Philippines will be maintained. This gives the country tariff-free export of over 6,000 products to Europe.

Germany is the Philippines’ biggest trade partner in the European Union, making up for about 40 percent of the EU trade in the Philippines, and export from Europe to the Philippines has actually increased by 18 percent. On the side of development and cooperation, Ambassador Jessen mentioned a few roadblocks they have experienced but continued to say that discussions on assistance and projects are back to normal. The next steps to take, he articulates, would be to develop an even more normalized relationship with the Government, and to encourage bilateral exchange with trade missions and more economic interaction.

Despite what is seems like on the surface, Ambassador Jessen affirms that European companies in the Philippines are overall satisfied with business. There’s a big difference, with how the Philippines is seen from Europe, and the way investors and companies look at the Philippines from within the country. The Ambassador ended his talk by encouraging those in the attendance to continue being ambassadors for the Philippines in their own countries.

GPCCI would like to thank Ambassador Franz Jessen for this thought-provoking talk, and we hope to welcome him again in the future.