By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
Britain has assured the Philippines of continued trade preferences based on the EU Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus even after its exit from Europe’s largest economic and political bloc.
British Ambassador Daniel Pruce made this assurance during a media reception Tuesday at the ambassador’s residence.
The ambassador explained that as UK moved on after leaving EU, it has a one-year transition period or until the end of this year allowing the country to continue the same EU-GSP Plus privileges for its trading partners as it was a party to this program before it left the EU bloc.
This means that the trade relationship with the Philippines will be under the GSP Plus scheme during the transition period where the UK and EU are also expected to conclude its new trading relationship.
The EU-GSP Plus grants zero to preferential tariff to over 6,000 tariff lines or products exported to the 27 EU members states.
“So, we have a guarantee that as we moved out of this current relationship with EU by end this year we will maintain on a national level a mirror of the GSP Plus scheme so there will be no change of tariff preferences with the Philippines,” he stressed.
“The transposition will take place without interruption when we leave EU,” he added.
He, however, said that the new national trading scheme after the exit will be determined by UK in terms of development and adjustments.
What is key though, he said, is that the “Philippines and EU trade relations are very strong and vibrant.” Pruce said UK will be looking forward to leverage this transition period to enhance partnership with the Philippines.
He said that a comprehensive framework committed with the Department of Foreign Affairs last year that encompasses defense and security, trade and investment links, media freedom, among others will move up to a higher level based on the same values that they adhere to.
“We have to look at collaboration and how to accelerate that,” he said.
Earlier, the Philippines trade and industry department said it would negotiate for a bilateral free trade agreement with UK after the Brexit.
Although the UK is not one of the country’s biggest trade partners, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the country should strive to improve the situation. Having an FTA with UK gives the country an opportunity to build the relationship in a stronger fashion and enhance trade arrangements because of these concessions.