The Philippines was removed from the priority list and included in the group of countries which need to be closely monitored,” the EU said in its report on the protection and enforcement of IPR in third world countries.
Ace Morandante/Presidential Photo, File
EU removes Philippines from priority watchlist
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —The European Union (EU) has removed the Philippines in its list of countries with weak intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement. 

While the Philippines was removed from the priority list, the EU said it would closely monitor developments in the country. 

“The Philippines was removed from the priority list and included in the group of countries which need to be closely monitored,” the EU said in its report on the protection and enforcement of IPR in third world countries. 

Prior to the removal from the list, the Philippines was among Priority 3 countries since 2015. 

The report lists countries into the following categories: Priority 1, 2 and 3, with the last category being the least concerning among the three. 

EU attributed the removal of the Philippines from the list to the very few complaints received from stakeholders. 

Despite being taken out of the list, the EU said it would keep a close watch on the Philippines.

Citing studies conducted by the EU IP Office and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the EU said the Philippines remains a source  of counterfeit goods such as leather articles, handbags, pharmaceuticals, footwear, games, toys, and sport equipment entering the trade bloc, as well as provenance of small parcel trade in fake jewelry.

While the IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) welcomes the removal of the country from the priority countries list, IPOPHL officer-in-charge director general Teodoro Pascua disputed EU’s observation the country has not made an improvement. 

He said the data used dates back to 2011 to 2013 and several actions have been made by the Philippines since then to improve IPR enforcement. 

“We expect that once IPOPHL’s and NCIPR’s (National Committee on IPR) efforts in the last quarter of 2019 are factored in, including the manifold projects and programs we intend to take in the next few years, the European Commission will give a more positive evaluation of the Philippines in its next report,” he said. 

This year’s report listed China as a Priority 1 country, while India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine were placed on Priority 2. 

Those under Priority 3 are Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

In another development, the EU said it is focusing on enhancing its relationship with the Philippines through trade preference framework Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) for now, as the parties have yet to agree on when to resume negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA). 

Thomas Wiersing, charge d’ affaires of the Delegation of the EU to the Philippines said there is currently no agreement by the parties on when to hold the next round of FTA talks. 

Two rounds of negations have been conducted for the EU-Philippines FTA talks so far, with the first one held in May 2016 in Brussels in Belgium, and the latest in February 2017 in Cebu.

As implementation and respect for conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment and good governance are deemed important by the EU in its relationship with the Philippines, the bloc has earlier raised concerns on the present administration’s war on drugs. 

As a beneficiary of the EU GSP+, the Philippines could enjoy duty-free entry of 6,274 products to the trade bloc. 

Around 25 percent or two billion euros worth of Philippine exports to the EU enjoyed the preferential access under the GSP+ last year. 

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