By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Philippine exports to EU under the GSP+ program was expected to reach a record high of R120 billion in 2017, according to the EU Commission.
Results of the GSP+ monitoring covering 2016-2017, which was adopted by the EU Commission, showed that Philippine exports to the EU under GSP+ increased from EUR 584 million in the first half of 2015 to EUR 903 million in the first half of 2017.
The largest increases in 2017 were registered including for animal products (+64%), fish and related products (+71%), prepared foodstuffs (+60%), edible fruits (39%), but also automotive parts (+45%), leather (+77%), textile (145%) and footwear (+74%).
The report also included an assessment of the Philippines’ implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, the environment and good governance.
GSP preferential imports to the EU amounted to over EUR 63 billion in 2016 and the Philippines is increasing its share in it since December 2014 when it became a GSP+ beneficiary. In 2016, the Philippines exported goods worth EUR 1.67 billion to the EU under GSP+ preferential treatment.
Head of EU Delegation Franz Jessen noted that the duty free access of Philippine goods to the EU has resulted in over 21 percent increase in export since last year.
“An estimated R120 billion worth of exports were benefiting from GSP+ trade preferences, especially in the food and agricultural sector. This makes the EU the Philippines’ second largest export partner, after Japan and before the US and China,” Jessen said. As part of the Philippines’s commitment under GSP+, the EU and the Philippines have an ongoing dialogue on the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, the environment, and good governance.
“We see progress in some areas (for instance labor and environment), and have a frank discussion on others (such as death penalty),” he said.
However, extrajudicial killings, in particular in the fight against illegal drugs, related impunity, as well as the possible reintroduction of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility are of serious concern.
The EU will continue to work closely with the Philippines through the ongoing GSP+ monitoring process, seeking to provide support to ensure that continued and tangible progress is made on implementing the 27 international conventions.
Meantime, the EU Delegation to the Philippines warmly welcomed the third approval of the EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement on Monday, January 22, in the Senate.
Jessen said that the concurrence of the Senate to the ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement is a major milestone and a big step forward in the EU-Philippines relationship.
The PCA will serve as a general framework to allow better collaboration between the EU and the Philippines in a number of crucial areas including in political, economic and development issues.
The Philippines and the EU established diplomatic relations 1964, and this partnership has matured and evolved over the years. EU remains to be a robust partner of the Philippines.
Now that the Senate has concurred to the ratification of the Senate, the next challenge is to get this framework effectively operational, said Jessen.
“From the EU side, we will do everything to keep the relationship with the Philippines robust, dynamic and positive,” he said.