European Commission backs PH bid for EU preferred status

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The European Commission (EC) intends to favorably endorse to the European Union (EU) parliament the Philippines’ application for Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

GSP+ is a program under the EU Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme that offers preferential tariffs to exports from eligible countries in the form of zero tariffs on all products covered by the scheme.

Based on a review of the Philippine application, the EC concluded that the Philippines has met eligibility criteria for GSP+. In particular, the note verbale from the EC cited that the PH has ratified and is implementing international conventions required for inclusion in the GSP+ program.

“We thank the European Commission for their positive assessment of our application. This is a step forward in a stringent process. We hope that before the year ends, the PH application will be approved by the EU parliament,” Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said.


“We have been intensifying efforts to secure the GSP+ approval from the EU Parliament as part of the PH strategy to increase trade with the EU. We have been meeting and communicating as well with Philippine embassy officials in Europe to strengthen our campaign for the GSP+ application,” Cristobal added.

The Philippines is already a beneficiary of the GSP scheme, which provides for reduced tariffs or zero tariffs to a limited number of products. Once PH application to GSP+ is approved, PH exporters will enjoy zero tariffs on all products covered by the scheme, including big-ticket items that the Philippines is currently exporting under the regular GSP such as animal/vegetable fats and oils, prepared foodstuffs, machinery and mechanical appliances; chemical products, textiles and garments, and plastic products.

“On the domestic side, we shall convene the PH task force for GSP+ to ensure that our industries are ready to take advantage of GSP+ market access, once [the application is]approved. This includes technical assistance and capacity-building for Philippine exporters to Europe through the EU’s Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) Project. We also need to identify trade barriers that our exporters are facing, among others,” Cristobal added.

Cristobal added that increased exports to EU as a result of the GSP+ scheme will translate to enhanced production capacity in the Philippines. Based on consultations with exporters last year, the DTI estimates GSP+ could generate an additional 270,000 jobs in both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

GSP+ offers a more generous scheme of preferences and has a larger coverage of 6,274 products, all of which are subject to zero duty. Sectors with the highest preferential margins, or in other words, will see the largest percentage reductions in current tariffs between general GSP and GSP+ are prepared foodstuffs at 9.3 percent, garments at 9.0 percent, textile products at 5 percent, live animals and animal products at 4.2 percent, and footwear, headwear and umbrellas at 4 percent.

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