The European Union will double its development assistance to the Philippines to 325 million EUR (more than 435 million USD) in the first six years, local media in the Southeast Asian country reported on July 30.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in Manila on July 29, EU’s High Representative on Foreign Policy Baroness Catherine Ashton said the assistance will focus on supporting judicial reforms, job creation, sustainable energy and inclusive growth.

Ashton, who is also Vice President of the European Commission, also noted that the EU is currently the Philippines ’ third largest trade partner with 2013 bilateral trade reaching 11 billion EUR.

She also expressed hope for new opportunities to foster the bilateral partnership and political dialogues.

For his part, Rosario said the two sides agreed to further beef up their economic ties, noting now is the best time for European enterprises to invest in the Philippines in the view of its relatively high growth rate, upgrades by credit rating agencies and good governance policies by President Aquino III.

He stated that with 10.2 billion USD in FDI or one third of the total investment flow, the EU is the biggest investor in his country.-VNA