Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Roy Stephen C. Canivel @roy­canivel_INQ

A Euro­pean Union (EU) busi­ness del­e­ga­tion will visit the Philip­pines later this month in search of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties con­nected to green en­ergy, the Board of In­vest­ments (BOI) an­nounced yes­ter­day.

The del­e­ga­tion, which be­longs to the EU Busi­ness Av­enues (EUBA) in South East Asia Pro­gramme, will rep­re­sent 39 prom­i­nent and up-and-coming firms.

“The visit is part of the two­leg Green En­ergy Tech­nolo­gies Busi­ness Mis­sion, look­ing into Singapore and the Philip­pines’ busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in sec­tors such as hy­dropower, wind, smart grid, in­fra­struc­ture, so­lar en­ergy and biomass,” the BOI state­ment said.

The an­nounce­ment came on the heels of Pres­i­dent Duterte threat­en­ing EU am­bas­sadors to leave the Philip­pines within 24 hours from Thurs­day af­ter­noon. The out­burst re­sulted from the visit of some Euro­pean par­lia­men­tar­i­ans ear­lier this week to crit­i­cize Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs and po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion of op­po­si­tion. The EU had clar­i­fied that it had noth­ing to do with that del­e­ga­tion’s visit.

BOI said that the Philip­pine leg of the Green En­ergy Tech­nolo­gies busi­ness mis­sion—the sixth mis­sion un­der the EUBA pro­gram—would be held on Oct. 26 and 27 in time for the En­ergy Smart Philip­pines 2017.

Or­ga­nized and funded by EU’s Ser­vice for For­eign Pol­icy In­stru­ments, the EUBA aims to strengthen the pres­ence of Euro­pean com­pa­nies in South­east Asia by or­ga­niz­ing one-week busi­ness mis­sions to the re­gion where match­mak­ing and other busi­ness sup­port ser­vices would be done.

This comes as a bill in the Se­nate wants to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize a foun­da­tion for a com­pre­hen- sive en­ergy ef­fi­ciency pol­icy frame­work. The bill, named the En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ver­sa­tion Act of 2017, is spon­sored by Sen. Sher­win Gatchalian.

Gatchalian said that there could be a to­tal of P1.6 tril­lion in sav­ings from 2018 to 2030, or an av­er­age of P126.4 bil­lion an­nu­ally, if the Philip­pines be­comes half as en­ergy ef­fi­cient as Ger­many, which is among the world’s top en­ergy-ef­fi­cient coun­tries.

He added that the sav­ings could even reach P5.5 tril­lion, or P420 bil­lion a year, if the coun­try fully meets Ger­many’s ef­fi­ciency stan­dard, adding that this would also trans­late to less de­pen­dence on for­eign coal.

EU has been one of the most im­por­tant eco­nomic part­ners of the Philip­pines, play­ing huge roles in terms of trade and in­vest­ment. The EU em­bassy in Manila as well as EU busi­nesses have in­sisted on keep­ing strong ties with the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment de­spite the oc­ca­sional hur­dles brought by the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­i­tics.

For its part, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI), have stressed that the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship with EU re­mained mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. This comes as some stake­hold­ers raised cau­tion that Mr. Duterte’s vi­o­lent war on drugs might af­fect the coun­try’s pref­er­en­tial trade ar­range­ment with the bloc, known as the GSP+.

The Gen­er­al­ized Sys­tem of Pref­er­ence Plus (GSP +) al­lows zero tar­iffs on more than 6,000 Philip­pine prod­ucts that are ex­ported to the EU. This perk, which only a few coun­tries en­joy and the Philip­pines be­ing the only Asean na­tion to ben­e­fit from it, is given on con­di­tion that the ben­e­fi­ciary state ad­heres to cer­tain in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions, in­clud­ing one con­cern­ing hu­man right.

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