PH-EU engagement should continue: DTI

Despite the Philippine government’s plans to stop receiving aid from the European Union, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the engagement between the two parties should continue, particularly in boosting trade.

Lopez told the Philippine News Agency in a text message Thursday that the department does not want the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) to be affected, as it helps market access to the EU and provides the bloc cheaper products from the country while benefiting European businesses here exporting back to the EU.

“We don’t want the current GSP to be affected,” he said noting that the GSP+ is a “commercial transaction that can mutually benefit both sides”.

“GSP provides market access to our exporters but it allows cheaper Philippine products for EU consumers or cheaper inputs for their manufacturers,” the trade chief added.

In December 2014, 6,274 products from the Philippines was allowed to enter the EU duty-free through the GSP+.

The country’s exports to EU in 2016 reached 1.7 billion euros, increasing by 10 percent from 2015’s 1.55 billion worth of exports.

Utilization of GSP+ also improved to 71 percent from last year’s rate of about 67 percent.

“EU investors in the country that exports back to EU also benefit from the GSP. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement,” Lopez said.

“EU should continue to engage the country,” the official added. (PNA)