‘Philippines not likely to lose EU trade perks easily’
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will not easily lose its trade perks from the European Union as market diversification is crucial should the worst happen.

“I would like to think that we won’t lose it that fast because it is something that we worked very hard for and we are starting to reap the benefits,” former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Asis Perez said after EU lawmakers called for the removal of the Philippines from the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

The GSP+ is a scheme that allows beneficiary countries to export 6,274 products to any of the 28 members of the EU bloc at zero tariff for a period of 10 years.

The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia with GSP + status.

The European market is a leading trading partner of the Philippines in terms of marine products like tuna.

Products that enter the EU duty free include marine products, coconut products, processed fruit, prepared food, animal and vegetable fats and oils, textiles, garments, headwear, footwear, furniture, umbrellas, and chemicals.

Prior to securing EU GSP+ status in 2014, the Philippines was a beneficiary of the regular GSP program which only covered 6,209 products, with 2,442 products subject to zero duty and the rest subject to lower tariffs.

“This makes our producers more competitive against other countries like Thailand in the EU market. The proposal came from the EU Parliament, there’s one more level after that,” said Perez, who is now convenor for Tugon Kabuhayan.

Perez said it was necessary to diversify the market and explore other export opportunities.

Tuna exports, priced at $1,300 per metric ton, have dropped to $800 per MT.

“The local population can absorb but we have to identify where we can concentrate and how to get the goods there,” he said.

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