The Aquino government is close to sealing a partnership cooperation agreement (a prerequisite for a free trade agreement or FTA) with the European Union (EU) that, among others, commits to liberalizing trade and investments and loosening rules on intellectual property rights (IPRs).
According to IBON, the proposed EU-PH FTA is a practical surrender of national sovereignty as the Aquino government has given up economic protection needed for self-reliance and national development.
The United Kingdom (UK) embassy announced this week that the country has already approved the partnership cooperation agreement (PCA), a framework deal without specific commitments but setting general directions for economic, political and social issues between the EU and the Philippines. The UK was the last EU member to approve the PCA text, which can now be formally signed by the EU and the Philippines, paving the way for an EU-PH FTA.
According to IBON research head Sonny Africa, IPRs extend to data protection, plant variety protection and geographical indications, which will have implications on farmers’ access to and control of seeds, people’s access to medicines, people’s access to cheap technology, among others.
Moreover, the EU-PH FTA will also allow foreign corporations to seek national treatment, or to be treated like Filipino nationals, enjoying equal privileges. The EU will also be allowed to participate in medical services and provision of expertise, which edges out local medical practitioners and health workers.
According to Africa, an EU-PH FTA will bind the Philippine government and disallow it from reversing policy decisions in the future. It will also bind the Philippine government to give to the EU whatever privileges it gives to other countries.
“The fact that the Aquino government is seeking to enter into such an unequal relationship sends signals to other capitalist countries, particularly the US, that the Philippines is very willing to forge other FTAs and be the launching pad for other FTAs in the ASEAN and the entire region,” said Africa. (end)