Zamboanga City - Exporters and businesses in Region 9 are set to take advantage of the European Union’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+).

At a briefing held recently in this city by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on “Doing Business with the EU using the GSP+,” Permex Producer and Exporter Inc. President Edgar Lim acknowledged the work of DTI in obtaining market access for Philippine exporters to Europe. “The ball is on our side. It’s there – more than 6,200 products that we can export to EU at zero tariff. It is up to us to deliver and to take that opportunity,” Lim said. Permex is one of the leading canned tuna and canned sardines producers in the country.

Some 80 exporters, SMEs, and members of the academe based in Region 9 and coming from as far as Tawi Tawi participated in the “Doing Business with the European Union (EU) using the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+)” information session held here in Zamboanga City last 24 February 2015.

The Philippines was accepted as an EU-GSP+ beneficiary country last December 2014. DTI projects that with the implementation of the EU-GSP+, exports to EU may increase by as much as 10 percent. The agency also said that more than 200,000 jobs will be created.

Among the major products of Region 9 are marine and coconut products, which stand to gain the most from the EU-GSP+. Fishery products, for example, are eligible for duty free export to EU under the scheme. Prior to the EU-GSP+, fishery products were levied as much as 24% tariff. Other products that may avail of duty free access to EU include processed fruit, prepared food, animal and vegetable fats and oils, textiles, garments, headwear, footwear, furniture, umbrellas, and chemicals.

“We’ve already had initial discussions with businesses who plan to expand their operations in the region. The EU-GSP+ is a developmental tool which helps the country generate additional revenue and new jobs critical to economic growth,” he said. Rodolfo also cited the competitive advantage of the Philippines vis a vis its neighbors as the Philippines is the only ASEAN country granted EU-GSP+ status.

During the information session, DTI officials explained the nature of the preferential tariff scheme and the opportunities for Philippine export products. Albin Ganchero of the DTI Export Marketing Bureau provided indepth information on the EU market and its requirements. Citing food products as an example, Ganchero said “There are important food safety issues that have to be addressed when exporting to the EU. Adhering to food contamination requirements is crucial“. Exporters and SMEs were also provided market information on consumer spending trends in the EU.

Meanwhile, exporters cited the need for policy support to facilitate their entry to the EU market. In particular, the private sector said that there is a need to develop an international port in Zamboanga. Without an international port in Zamboanga, exporters are forced to ship their products to the ports of Manila, Davao or Cagayan de Oro resulting in “double handling” or more costs. They also said that it would be to the advantage of businesses in the regions to transact with a local customs office instead of going all the way to Manila to obtain export permits. (END)