DTI calls for deeper trade engagement with EU

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) urge stakeholders to support the Philippines’ strategy to strengthen trade and investment relations with Europe in order to increase exports to that region and thereby create thousands of new jobs for Filipinos.

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Speaking at the “PH-EU One Country, One Voice” consultations, DTI Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. updated stakeholders on the status of Philippine trade engagements in the European region.

Cristobal said, “We need to deepen our relationship with the EU and make it more meaningful for both economies.”

“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.

The EU is the fourth largest trading partner of the Philippines with total trade valued at $15.1 billion, representing 10.7 percent of the Philippines’ total trade with the world in 2013.

Currently the Philippines is a beneficiary of the EU Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), where 2,442 products from the Philippines are exported at zero duty while 3,767 are subject to reduced tariffs.

The country submitted its application to the 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 the EU and said they planned to establish new manufacturing plants and employ more workers if the GSP+ status is 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 euro GSP-eligible exports to EU in 2013, only 1.05 billion euros or 67 percent qualified under the GSP.”

Cristobal highlighted the need to continue to develop capacity among government and the 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.

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