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EU trade performance a success for Philippines
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EU trade performance a success for Philippines

MANILA, Philippines, September 14 ------ The actual trade performance of the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) has been a “great success” for the Philippines, EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said. Although there were some concerns in certain partners of the Philippines, he said it is actually going very well as many of the products under the trade incentives for the country are agriculture products. “You are doing much better in terms of export to the EU than you did before and it’s driven very much by this GSP+,” Jessen told The Chiefs on Wednesday night on Cignal TV’s One News channel. “I think President Duterte probably appreciates that many of the products under GSP+ are agriculture products so it is a pro-poor agenda which fits very nicely with the government’s agenda. So the economic reality is good,” he said.

The GSP+, he said, was unilaterally given to the Philippines by the EU because of shared values and economic outlook. “It is not something you apply for. You may have expressed interest in it but it is something being granted by the EU,” Jessen said. With completely removed duties for most products, an estimated P120 billion worth of Philippine exports benefited from the EU’s GSP+ and reached a record high in 2017. But retaining the trade incentives lies on an assessment of the country’s implementation of international conventions, including human rights.

The EU granted to the Philippines beneficiary country status under the EU GSP+ in 2014 following former President Benigno Aquino III’s visit to Europe. The EU provides GSP+ preferences to create economic benefits that will help the Philippines assume its responsibilities under core international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance. The EU, which is also a party to these conventions, will keep under review the effective implementation by the Philippines, as well as its cooperation with their monitoring bodies.

The European Commission adopted  in January its second biennial GSP report to the European Parliament and the Council, including an assessment of the Philippines’ implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, the environment and good governance that the Philippines has ratified as a sovereign country. The assessment is based on reports from international monitoring bodies of the United Nations and the International Labor Organization, as well as dialogues with the government, civil society, business and trade unions.

In March 2017, the EU was urged to follow a proposal hitting the Philippine government where it may hurt most by removing trade incentives for the country to hold Duterte accountable for deaths under the war on drugs. Members of the European Parliament asked the EU to put pressure on the Philippines by considering the removal of the GSP+ with the country. Respect for human rights and rule of law are components in EU funding.

Source: philstar.com