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DTI: PH to keep enjoying EU trade perk

/ 05:08 AM March 20, 2018

The Philippines would keep a trade perk extended by the European Union notwithstanding the latter’s request for the United Nations (UN) to look into President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

The EU had included the Philippines on the list of countries that required the attention of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), citing the growing pile of dead bodies in Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

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In spite of this, Lopez said the Philippines would still keep an incentive that had so far allowed the country to export more than 6,000 products into the bloc at zero tariff.

“EU is keeping our GSP+,” Lopez told the Inquirer in a text message. The Philippines has been enjoying the benefits of the Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) for the past three years.

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This comes with a caveat that the beneficiary state will stick to certain international conventions, including the protection of human rights—the latter being a constant worry among critics of Duterte.

“As far as we know, they are keeping it [the GSP+ status]. Both our side and theirs appreciate the fact that GSP+ is a program that supports Philippine exports and job creation especially in the rural areas, mostly in Mindanao, which would help counter extremism and terrorism, and promote instead peace and prosperity,” Lopez added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed Philippine exports to the EU grew 32.8 percent to $9.26 billion last year from $6.97 billion in 2016. EU accounted for the second largest share of Philippine exports among economic groupings, second only to East Asia.

In a statement last week, the EU said it “remains deeply concerned” of the effects of the government’s drug war. It told UNHRC it was important to have “prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigations of all cases of death leading to prosecution in all cases of unlawful killing.”
Earlier, the European Commission released its second monitoring report of the country’s international commitments under the GSP+.

The report, seen to give a glimpse of the fate of the trade perk, did not explicitly recommend the retention of the GSP+.

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