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Pascual optimistic about GSP+ renewal for Philippines

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual has expressed optimism that the European Parliament will decide in favor of renewing the Philippines’ Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) trade agreement with the European Union, which will lapse by the end of the year.

Members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (EP DROI) went on a three-day visit to the Philippines this week, during which they met with officials from both the executive and legislative branches of the Philippine government.
The EU Parliament members made a courtesy call on Pascual, where he followed up on the renewal of the country’s GSP+ coverage.
“They were very happy when they met with me. I really pointed out to them that we are really conscious of the obligations of the Philippines with respect to human rights, labor, the environment, and governance because these are already the things we are promoting to improve industries in the Philippines,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the 2023 Annual Reception for the Banking Community on Friday.
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.
“There was a task force or working group that already completed their recommendation on the Philippines,” Pascual said, noting that members of EP DROI “are following up.”
“It means they're open to the possibility of a renewal because if the report is negative, there will be no delegation from the EU coming here.”
The Trade chief said he went to Brussels last year to campaign for the renewal of the GSP+.
Pascual, along with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and other top officials, were in Brussels in December 2022 to attend the Commemorative Summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the EU.
“Of course, we judge on the basis of body language; they’re receptive,” he said.
Pascual said the European Parliament will have to decide within the year whether it will renew the country’s GSP+ arrangement with the EU.
“My guess is within the year. Yes or no, they have to decide, [but] I’m optimistic,” Pascual said.

“The GSP+ will expire by the end of this year... We’ve gave them all the facts last year... They’ve already completed their report, and we gave our input,” he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said the visit of the EP DROI was 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.
In February last year, the European Parliament 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