Lifting of the yellow card issued to the Philippines by the European Union in connection with measures to fight illegal fishing is a big boost to the country attaining its inclusive growth objectives in the EU-Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), according to a senior trade official.
“It [lifting of yellow card]will allow us to maximize the inclusiveness of the GSP Plus because it will benefit sectors particularly those in Mindanao where the preference margins are really high. For some products, it can go as high as 29 percent that will be the preference margin,” Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Rodolfo Ceferino told reporters during an interview in Baguio City over the weekend.
EU is committed to sustainable exploitation of fishery resources at home and abroad.
It considers illegal, unreported and unregulated, or IUU, fishing a global criminal activity harmful not only to EU fishermen but also to local communities in developing countries.
As the world’s biggest fish importer, the EU does not wish to be complicit and accept such products into its market.
With the EU-GSP+ in place, Philippine producers can now export more than 6,000 products to the European Union at zero tariff.
The country, with its large coastal communities depending on fisheries, is proving to be a strong partner to help ensure sustainability of livelihood and global fisheries.
Ceferino lauded the decision because the Philippines can now fully utilize the GSP+ especially in the fisheries sector because Manila being flashed the red flag means it cannot export to Europe even if there is GSP+ in place.
He, however, said the lifting of the yellow card is not a requirement for GSP+.
“The Philippines is a conscientious trade partner that dutifully looks after the welfare of its workers, respects humans rights and protects the environment,” Ceferino pointed out.
Fishery exports from the Philippines to the EU amounted to EUR 170 million in 2013, out of a total EUR 5.1 billion.
Since the inclusion of the Philippines in the GSP+ trade preferential scheme by December last year, the fishery sector has been benefiting from substantial trade preferences when exporting to the European Union.
According to Ceferino, fishery is critical sector.
He cited the EU as the 4th largest market for Philippine fishery exports.
The union is among the top markets for Philippine aquaculture products (the country’s fifth-largest export) accounting for almost 30 percent of local marine products.
Marine aquaculture products currently face GSP duties of between 4 percent and 20.5 percent.