MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) remains highly optimistic that the European Union (EU) will continue to grant the Philippines the benefits of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters that both the Philippines and the EU signaled a desire to continue engagement on EU GSP+.
Lopez said it was also echoed by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström when they met during the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina early this month. “Overall message is we are optimistic they would like to engage us,” he noted.
During the last quarter of the year, the trade commission of EU regularly conducts a review of the GSP+ granted to the Philippines.
In a previous interview, Lopez said the EU GSP+ review would focus on the benefits it provided the country.
An assessment report is expected by January next year and will be forwarded to the EU Parliament. The report to be submitted to the EU Parliament will determine if it will continue to grant the GSP+ benefits to the Philippines.
However, the DTI chief said that there is a higher probability that the EU would sustain granting the GSP+ status for the country, as the EU is now “less concerned” with some issues in the country like compliance with labor law, among others.
There had been concern in the past, raised by minority senators, for instance, that the Duterte administration’s brushing off of issues about human rights raised by EU members might reduce the chances of the Philippines’ continuing to avail itself of the GSP+ benefits.
Opposition senators said the Philippines stands to lose by non-continuation of the program.
The EU GSP+ allows 6,274 goods from the Philippines to enter the EU market tariff-free.
For the country to maintain the status, it has to adhere to the 27 international conventions, with EU annually reviewing the country’s compliance with these international pacts.