Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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PH hopeful on keeping EU trade perks

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hopes to keep its preferential trade arrangement with the European Union (EU), expecting the bloc would to look past the “political noise” under the Duterte administration, a top official said.

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Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo told reporters that the Philippine government was expecting a balanced assessment from the European Commission, which will release its monitoring report this month.

The monitoring report concerns the country’s GSP+ status, which stands for the Generalized System of Preference Plus. For the past three years, this has allowed the Philippines to export more than 6,000 products to the European Union at zero tariff.

The perk, however, is based on the condition that the beneficiary state would stick to certain international conventions, including one concerning human rights—the latter being a constant concern raised by critics of President Duterte.

The European Commission will release the report, but it will be up to the European Parliament—a political body—to decide whether or not it would keep the Philippines’ GSP+ status.

For the government’s part, Rodolfo said they have actively engaged the commission in light of the monitoring requirements.

“So at the end of the day, we are expecting a balanced report that is based on facts rather than on political noise,” he said.

Concerns that plague the Duterte administration mainly revolve around the bloody drug war as well as moves to bring back the death penalty and lower the criminal age of responsibility. Various international officials have voiced their concerns regarding these issues.

The monitoring report next year will be the second of its kind since the Philippines received its GSP+ status in December 2014.

In its report last January 2016, the EU Commission noted the move to strengthen the human rights situation under the Aquino administration, though more was needed to be done.

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“It deserves to be noted that the Aquino administration since 2010 has been continuing to further strengthening the country’s human rights legal framework and that the number of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances has substantially declined,” a copy of the report, which is freely available online, read.

It remains to be seen how this would translate under the Duterte administration, which has been the target of local and international criticism for the government’s bloody drug war.

While the Philippines would like to keep the GSP+, Lopez had said in previous interviews that he would not mind losing the perk if it interfered with domestic affairs.

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TAGS: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Duterte Administration, EU trade perks, European Union (EU)
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