Philippine exports to the European Union (EU), under the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+), increased by 27%. Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. lauded stakeholders on their efforts to fully utilize the EU-GSP+. “The country’s beneficiary status under the EU-GSP+ is a result of what was a fruitful collaboration among government, the private and labor sectors, and industries. We urge local businesses to continue expanding their market presence and establish a stronger foothold in the EU market,” he said.

Under the EU-GSP+, the Philippines can export 6,274 eligible products duty-free access to the EU market. Prior to December 2014, the Philippines was covered by the regular EU-GSP which provides zero duty to only 2,442 products and reduced tariffs for 3,767 products. The Philippines was granted beneficiary country status under the EU-GSP+ in December 2014.

During the first six months of 2015, total exports to EU under the GSP+ amounted to €743 million while total exports in the previous year under the GSP amounted to €584 million, according to the first EU-GSP+ monitoring report endorsed by the European Commission (EC).

In the three quarters of 2015 alone, the electronics industry’s exports to the EU increased by €42.7 million, exports of aircraft and spacecraft parts grew by €6.9 million, exports of optical, photo and medical equipment pegged an increase of €9.6 million while exports of animal/vegetable fats and oil rose to €7.3 million compared to exports during the same period in 2014.

Since its acceptance in the preferential tariff scheme, DTI has been conducting stakeholder consultations and information sessions around the country to enable local firms to acquire technical knowledge on rules of origin and knowledge on export product standards under the EU-GSP+. This includes more than 180 information sessions of “Doing Business with the European Union using the GSP+” in the major export cities of the Philippines such as Cebu, Davao, General Santos City, and Angeles City.

Trade Undersecretary Dr. Ceferino Rodolfo said that being a beneficiary of the EU-GSP+ program is an essential achievement of the Philippines’ strategy to sustain and nurture the country’s trade and investment relations with Europe.

According to the European Union’s monitoring report, the Philippines has been making good progress on the implementation of its commitments under the EU-GSP+. The Philippines beneficiary status under the GSP+ necessitates the ratification and implementation of the 27 international treaties and conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment and governance.

“While we are making headway on our commitments under the GSP+, we will continue to build competitiveness locally while encouraging foreign companies to invest or consider investing in the Philippines,” Rodolfo said.

Cristobal emphasized that “competitiveness builds confidence and the capacity to innovate, pursue leads, seal deals, and deliver.” The DTI has been working with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on tripartite consultations with labor unions in the tuna industry to improve workers’ rights and working conditions to meet the stringent requirements of the EU. Both government agencies are also working on a Certification and Decertification Workers’ Rights Review Board for garments exporters that would facilitate the accreditation of manufacturers before they avail of preferential tariffs. The EU is ranked as the Philippines’ 4th largest trading partner, 3rd largest import source, and 4th largest export market. Major exports of the Philippines under the EU GSP scheme include crude coconut oil, canned tuna, pneumatic tires, spectacle lenses, relays, preserved fruits, board and similar cabinets for electric control or the distribution of electricity, and ballasts for discharge lamps. (END)