The Council of the European Union (EU) announced last week on their website that it has no objections to the inclusion of the Philippines to the list of beneficiary countries of the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+). The EU Statement said that "The Council decided not to object to a Commission regulation adding the Philippines to the list of beneficiary countries of the EU's GSP+ system of tariff preferences… It can now enter into force, unless the European Parliament objects."

“With this development, our application is now headed to the European Parliament for deliberation. We are optimistic that we will get approval from the EU Parliament before the year ends,” Department of Trade and Industry-Industry Development Group (DTI-IDG) Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said.

Cristobal urged stakeholders to support the Philippines’ strategy in ensuring preparedness of the country to maximize benefits of the EU's GSP+.

“We have been conducting a series of briefings with stakeholders to provide them information on our application to the GSP+ scheme as well as assistance on non-tariff measures and rules of origin (ROO) issues to capitalize on the full benefits of GSP+. We need to expand our country’s market access and increase investments to further strengthen the emerging sectors of our industry and generate more job opportunities to benefit especially the rural communities,” he said.

The Philippines officially completed its application process to the GSP+ arrangement last 27 February 2014. The DTI has been working closely with relevant agencies and stakeholders to update them on the status of the Philippines’ application to the GSP+.

The Philippines is currently a beneficiary of the EU GSP where 2,442 products from the Philippines are exported at zero duty while 3,767 are subject to reduced tariffs. With the inclusion of the Philippines in the EU GSP+ scheme, the Philippines will get to enjoy zero duty for all 6,274 covered products, translating to increase in the country’s exports to the EU, resulting to more employment opportunities. The product sectors most likely to benefit from GSP+ are animal or vegetable fats and oils, prepared foodstuffs, textiles and garments, footwear, hearwear, umbrellas, and chemical products.

Once approved by the EU Parliament, the Philippines will be the only GSP+ beneficiary in ASEAN.