The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) met with local businesses and government agencies in Zamboanga City on Tuesday to brief them on how businesses can take advantage of duty-free exports to any of the 28 member countries of the European Union (EU).
The Philippines recently became a beneficiary of the EU-Generalized System of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+). EU-GSP+ is a preferential tariff scheme granted by the European Union to developing countries that meet the very stringent application requirements.
The Philippines, currently the only country in Asean to be accepted in the scheme, applied for the scheme last year and was accepted formally into the EU-GSP+ on December 18, 2014. With the EU-GSP+ in place, Philippine producers can now export more than 6,000 products to the EU at zero tariff.
“As tariffs go down, we need to work more closely with Philippine businesses to help them navigate the rules of origin requirements and to hurdle other barriers, for instance product standards. We should also be able to build capacity for our MSMEs so that they can export and for our exporters to achieve the quality needed in the EU market,” said Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo.
Products that may avail of the duty free access to EU include coconut and marine products, processed fruit, prepared food, animal and vegetable fats and oils, textiles, garments, headwear, footwear, furniture, umbrellas, and chemicals.
“The Zamboanga Peninsula hopes to be a key player in taking advantage of EU market access. At zero tariff, this can translate to more opportunities for jobs and investments in the region, not only for marine and coco products but also other products such as rubber. In fact, we are now working with the rubber industry in the region to improve the quality of our rubber,” said DTI OIC-Regional Director Sitti Amina Jain, PhD.
According to DTI, Philippines exports to Europe are expected to increase by €611 million during the first three years of implementation of the EU-GSP+. The product sectors expected to have the highest gains are animal and vegetable oils and fats, prepared foodstuffs, textiles and garments, footwear, headwear, and umbrellas, and chemical products.
“The projected increase in exports in the next three years will translate to more than 200,000 new jobs, in both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, particularly in the rural areas where these are needed most,” Rodolfo said.