The Philippines secured last week a favorable endorsement of its application to the European Union’s new generalized system of preferences (GSP+), a move that will bring the country a step closer to being included in the scheme.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the EU Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) endorsed on Dec. 4 the country’s application, despite attempts by some members to block the granting of a GSP+ status to the Philippines. On Dec. 18, the EU Parliament is scheduled to decide on the Philippines’ application to be included in the GSP+ scheme.
Trade Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo separately noted that being included in this scheme would not only significantly boost exports, investments and job generation, but would also strengthen the country’s pitch as a production hub in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. led the high-level Philippine delegation to a meeting held in Brussels last week to make that final push for the country’s GSP+ application. During the meeting, Cristobal presented the importance of GSP+ to the Philippines, citing the country’s impressive economic gains, good governance and anti-corruption reforms.
“We have the momentum for sustained economic growth that can substantially reduce poverty in the country. A critical element for sustained growth is boosting trade with the rest of the world, and the GSP+ can create over 200,000 new jobs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors in its early years of implementation. Most of these jobs will be in rural areas outside the major cities where they are needed the most,” Cristobal explained.
Recalling the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Eastern and Western Visayas last year, Cristobal pointed out that “the EU GSP+ privilege is really a game changer for us, where hundreds of thousands of jobs in the countryside and in disaster stricken areas will be created in the short and medium term. It complements our growth strategy as well as our rehabilitation efforts in areas hard hit by Typhoon ‘Haiyan’ last year.”
The Philippines is 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 in more employment opportunities.
To date, 13 countries have been granted GSP+ privileges by the European Union. If approved by the European Parliament, the Philippines would be the 14th beneficiary country of the EU GSP+ and the only GSP+ beneficiary in Asean, Cristobal added.
EU is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner in 2013, with total bilateral trade registered at $12.8 billion. It ranked fourth as an export market for the Philippine products, accounting for 11.56 percent of total Philippine exports. Amy R. Remo
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