Malacañang: PHL retains EU preferential tariff system status

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“The Philippines retained its Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) under the European Union (EU),” Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said during the January 20 press briefing in Kalibo, Aklan.

GSP+ status grants full removal of tariffs on over 66% of EU tariff lines or 6,200 products from the Philippines.

“So far po, pagkatapos ng report ng EU na sinumite na sa EU Parliament, wala pong pagbabago doon sa ating GSP Preferences Plus. Now ito pong annual report is a regular assessment of the conditions in the country’s beneficiaries,” Roque said.

The GSP+ monitoring mission to the Philippines took place from 26 January to 2 February 2017.

“During the reporting period 2016-2017, improvements have been noted in the implementation of human rights largely as a result of the Philippines’ socio-economic development. Economic growth and reforms are contributing to raising living standards in the country, as does the Philippines’ agenda on universal health care and job creation as part of inclusive economic growth,” says in the EU report.

However the report noted that “the way the campaign against illegal drugs is conducted is a matter of grave concern.”

It also noted that “overall, the structures and necessary policy and legal frameworks are in place to ensure the application of labour standards in the Philippines.”

The report also noted the Philippines is “turning around the energy mix in favour of coal.” “Such developments, as well as lack of detail on planned actions may put into question climate change commitments. A strengthened dialogue is therefore necessary to facilitate an environment-friendly growth agenda,” it said.

“The way the campaign against illegal drugs is conducted is a matter of grave concern, in particular the large number of drug-related killings as well as the sharp increase in prison overcrowding. The Government is encouraged to reconsider its approach to drug related problems,” the report said.

“With regard to the fight againt corruption, the Philippines is addressing the challenges it is faced with through improvements of the Government bureaucracy, including freedom of information and customs,” it noted.

Secretary Roque said regular assessment aims “to ensure the country beneficiaries are democratic and civilized. Conditions include: the environments, governance labor among others.”

“The report notes that we are vibrant democracy and we have been signatories to the conventions such as labor, human rights, environment among others; even before the GSP Plus,” Roque said.

“Now the GSP is a unilateral privilege granted to select countries. This means, they can take it away anytime. The GSP is meant to assist countries to reform. This is why the EU has continued to engage with the Philippines under the leadership of President Duterte. Okay, so that’s good news. GSP Plus with the EU remains,” he noted.

Sources: https://pcoo.gov.ph/press_briefing/press-briefing-presidential-spokesperson-secretary-harry-roque-2/; http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2018/january/tradoc_156546.pdf