PHILIPPINE transactions under the generalized system of preference plus (GSP+) rose 71 percent in 2016, an official of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said.
“The GSP+ for 2016 went up to 1.7 billion euros and the utilization up 71 percent . . . because the overall exports from the Philippines to the world and to EU declined a bit, but the GSP+ went up. So, proportionally, that becomes bigger. And also what you see is a lot of agriculture products,” Walter van Hattum, EU Delegation head of economic affairs of the ECCP said on the sidelines of the Prosperity Summit 2017 late last week.
“Roughly half of all the exports under the GSP+, agri has 750 million euros last year,” he added.
In 2015, Philippine transactions under the GSP+ were €1.55 billion euro or 67 percent utilization rate. “So it’s about 100 million euros to 150 million euros more,” Van Hattum said.
“And of course, we still expect an increase this year,” he added.
In the first six months of 2015, Philippine exports to EU under the GSP+ increased by 27 percent to €743 million from €584 million a year earlier. The largest increases came from animal products (+157 percent), fish and related products (+41 percent), cereals, flour and nuts (+46 percent), prepared foodstuffs (+72 percent), chemicals (+42 percent), plastics (+46 percent), wood and wood charcoal (+199 percent) and footwear (+230 percent).
“Hopefully, the EU-GSP+ will not be taken away from us because there’s no violation,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told The Manila Times on Tuesday.
Lopez earlier said a revocation of the Philippines’ GSP+ status could be the price the country will have to pay should it revive the death penalty.
“I would just tell them [proponents of the move to bring back capital punishment]that there is an economic impact, but in the end we’d have to weigh it with the political, peace and order, and security impact,” he said.
“If the President [Rodrigo Duterte], the Cabinet cluster and maybe legislators would in the end bring that back—after a thorough deliberation of pros and cons—then I won’t argue,” he added.
Lopez said he hopes that the EU would be flexible when it comes to the GSP+ requirements.
The regular GSP covers 6,209 Philippine products, of which 2,442 are subject to zero duty, while 3,767 have reduced tariffs. In comparison, the GSP+ qualifies 6,274 other products for zero duty.
Van Hattum said that despite the political controversy, for business it’s not problem. “They just need to take advantage of the GSP+.”