Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. urged stakeholders to support the Philippine’s strategy to strengthen trade and investment relations with Europe. Speaking before stakeholders in a series of consultations held this week, Cristobal said, “We need to deepen our relationship with the EU and make it more meaningful for both economies. Working together and guided by a shared goal of inclusive growth can be achieved as we expand our country’s market access and increase investments to benefit the least developed regions in the country and strengthen the emerging sectors of our industry as well.”
The PH-EU One Country, One Voice consultations updated stakeholders on the status of Philippine trade engagements in the European region. “The Philippine strategy is to increase trade engagements in the European region. This includes our application to the EU-GSP+, impact studies for a possible PH-EU economic partnership agreement, and the recent establishment of the Joint Economic Commission with the European Free Trade Area (EFTA),” Cristobal added.
EU is the 4th largest trading partner of the Philippines with total trade valued at US$ 15.10 billion, representing 10.75% of the Philippines’ total trade with the world in 2013. The Philippines is currently a beneficiary of the EU Generalized System of Preferences where 2,442 products from the Philippines are exported at zero duty while 3,767 are subject to reduced tariffs. The Philippines submitted its application to the European Union (EU) Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme, which offers a larger coverage of 6,274 products, all of which will be accorded zero duty, once approved. The Philippine’s GSP+ application will be decided on by the European Parliament before the year ends.
“The EU GSP+ application is one pillar of our strategy to further engage Europe. With the inclusion of the Philippines in the list of beneficiary countries of the GSP+, we project a significant increase in the share of exports and some 197,000 new jobs for Filipinos. The marginalized should benefit from the EU GSP+ scheme,” Cristobal said.
Participants from the private sector welcomed Philippine initiatives to expand trade relations with EU and remarked that they project to establish new manufacturing plants and employ more workers if the GSP+ would be approved.
Nearly a quarter or 23 percent of total Philippine exports to EU in 2013 were covered by the regular GSP. “The Philippines will maximize the benefits from the current GSP scheme,” Cristobal said, “Of the €1.56 billion GSP-eligible exports to EU in 2013, only €1.05 billion or 67% qualified under the GSP.”Undersecretary Cristobal highlighted the need to continue to develop capacity among government and private sector to ensure preparedness of rural communities for EU-GSP. The DTI will conduct workshops for government agencies and the private sector to prepare for GSP+ and to increase capacity under the regular GSP scheme targeting development in rural communities. (END)