Philippine Standard Time:

The Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) and Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) conducted Sectoral Consultation on the Philippine-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Negotiations on August 17, 2015 at the Ichikawa Hall, Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) in Diliman, Quezon City.

The sectoral consultation aimed to craft better negotiating positions for the Philippines through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Specifically, it intended to gather inputs, interests or concerns, and more in-depth and accurate information from the stakeholders. Likewise, it provided an avenue for stakeholders to be informed of the undertaking of the Philippine government and EFTA states.

Asst. Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) discussed the overview of international trade negotiations and agreements. Deputy Director General Emmanuel F. Esguerra of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) presented the sectors of interest of trading partners and the proposed initial offers. Atty. Romeo M. Montefalco of DOLE-Legal Service shared insights on the labor standards of trading partners.

Approximately seventy (70) representatives from the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council, Tripartite Executive Committee, and different Industry Tripartite Councils in the services sector participated in the activity.

The Philippines’ engagement with EFTA is part of a three-pronged strategy to increase the country’s presence in the European region. The other two include the country’s interest in the European Union (EU) through the Generalized System of Preferences Plus and a possible PH-EU EFTA.