The Philippines will follow up on the renewal of the Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) trade agreement with the European Union this week as the ongoing arrangement is set to lapse by the end of the year.
The GSP+ will be one of the subjects discussed with members of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights (EP DROI) during a courtesy call, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
"We are following up with the EU on the renewal of our GSP+ coverage. The current coverage will expire at the end of this year, 2023," Pascual said in a virtual briefing on Wednesday.
"So there will be continuity; we would like the EU to decide in favor of giving us coverage again for the coming three years," he added.
The EU GSP+ agreement grants the Philippines zero duties on 6,274 locally-made products, as long as the country meets the requirements regarding human and labor rights, the environment, and good governance.
Six members of the EP DROI were scheduled to visit the Philippines from February 22 to 24, with meetings with Pascual and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
"Of course the renewal of our GSP+ is a major concern of DTI, but we are also getting support from our colleagues in government," Pascual said, noting that the Philippine delegation already flew to Brussels earlier to campaign for the renewal.
"I was there also, and we each had the opportunity to campaign with the EU Parliament. In my case, I was also able to talk to EU council officials," he added.
Pascual, along with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and other top officials, were in Brussels in December to attend the Commemorative Summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the EU.
"The visit of the EP DROI is taking place in the context of the open and regular engagement between the Philippines and the EU on human rights and the shared aim to further constructive dialogue and cooperation on human rights," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a separate statement.
The European Parliament last February mulled the removal of some of the Philippines’ trading privileges should the government, then led by former President Rodrigo Duterte, fail to address the alleged human rights violations in the country.
Latest data available from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that Philippine exports to the EU stood at $667.05 million in December, or 11.8% of the total, while imports from the 27-nation bloc stood at $640.53 million, or 6.2% of the total.
This brought the total export receipts to $9.242 billion and imports to $8.566 billion for the full year 2022.
Data from the European Commission indicate that trade in goods between the Philippines and the EU totaled €15.2 billion, while bilateral trade in services between the two parties hit €4.9 billion in 2019. — VBL, GMA Integrated News