The Department of Trade and Industry has laid out an aggressive game plan to enable more local exporters to maximize the benefits of the Philippines’ successful inclusion in the new generalized system of preferences (GSP+) of the European Union.
In a briefing Friday, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo noted that this “Christmas gift” from the EU would be in place for 10 years starting Dec. 25 this year, a day after the granting of a GSP+ status to the Philippines is published in the EU Journal.
“This is a game changer. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the countryside will be created in the short and medium term. This development is significant to our economic growth strategy. We have to take full advantage of the GSP+, that’s why we’re calling on all stakeholders and agencies as we carve out the next steps,” Domingo stressed.
The EU Parliament on Thursday night (Manila time) approved the country’s inclusion in the GSP+ program, which will enable local firms to export to Europe over 6,200 products at zero duty.
Some of the Philippines’ most important exports include processed fruit and foodstuffs; coconut oil; footwear; fish and textiles.
The Philippines became the 14th beneficiary country of the GSP+.
This move will not only significantly boost investments, jobs and Philippine exports to Europe by as much as 611 million Euros or roughly P38 billion, but will also strengthen the country’s pitch as an attractive production hub within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said the Board of Investments, an attached agency of the DTI, would conduct a series of activities that will include investment and economic briefings for business chambers, councils, industry associations, and inbound investment missions.
The DTI will also start next month a massive information campaign focusing on “Doing Business with the EU using GSP+”.
In the first half of 2015, the DTI will conduct information sessions on the basics of exporting and doing business using this scheme.
The DTI will also organize business missions to Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The information dissemination campaign will be held for key industries such as garments and textiles, chemicals and leather goods.
The Center of International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem) will meanwhile provide a specialized capability building seminar and workshop that will allow Philippine exhibitors to various trade fairs in the EU to effectively communicate to their buyers the EU GSP+ privileges and underline the additional competitive dimension of their products.
These fairs include the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Italy; Maison & Objet in France; Manila FAME in the Philippines; Food Philippines Anuga in Germany and Ifex Philippines.
Domingo said Philippine firms would have to prepare for challenges like complying with technical procedures concerning rules of origin and phytosanitary standards, which have become more stringent, particularly for food products.
But he expressed confidence that more local exporters would be able to maximize the benefits of the GSP+.
Actual utilization of the previous GSP scheme was only around 64 percent or 1.08 billion euros but this figure is expected to increase, according to the Delegation of the EU to the Philippines.
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