Trade chief optimistic on resumption PH-EU free trade talks this year
Trade Secretary Alfred Pascual is optimistic that negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) will resume this year, banking on the goodwill that the Marcos administration has so far built with the regional bloc.
Pascual said the first step in forging an FTA with the EU is the resumption of the discussion, and this was the reason he has been busy convincing European firms operating in the country to help the Philippines in pushing for this agenda.
“They (EU) have to agree to resume negotiations. That’s why I was enjoining European companies who will benefit from this to give a push to our proposition to resume the negotiations of the EU FTA,” Pascual told reporters on the sidelines of a forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) in Makati.
“In the meantime, we have the GSP (Generalized System of Preference) Plus. That will hopefully be renewed for the country beyond 2023,” he said further.
During the same forum, Pascual highlighted the strong trading relation between the Philippines and the countries in the regional bloc.
According to him, the Philippines has been the only Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member-country to benefit from the EU-GSP Plus since 2014.
He likewise noted that Philippine exports to the EU rose from €5.3 billion ($5.7 billion) in 2014 under the standard GSP to €7.8 billion ($8.35 billion) in 2021.
“Through the years, the Philippines has engaged the EU and completed four GSP Plus monitoring dialogue cycles that review the country’s compliance with the 27 conventions covered under GSP Plus,” said Pascual.
Under the EU GSP+, the Philippines enjoys zero duty on more than 6,000 products covered by the scheme until 2023. The Philippines is working on its renewal.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippines has €2.03 billion ($2.21 billion) worth of exports under the EU’s GSP+ scheme as of 2021, with the share of GSP exports to total exports at 26 percent.
Major Philippine exports covered by the scheme include crude coconut oil, prepared or preserved tuna and pineapple.
Vacuum cleaners, spectacle lenses, new pneumatic tires of rubber, relays for voltage, bicycles and other cycles, footwear, and industrial fatty alcohol are included in this list.