PHL urged to fully exploit benefits of Euro trade deals

Ambassador Alain Gaschen

LOCAL enterprises are urged to take advantage of the benefits from trade agreements with Europe such as the European Union (EU) Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) and the free-trade deal with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

In last month’s briefing, Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen said that, although the country’s utilization rate of the Philippines-EFTA free-trade agreement (FTA) “maintains [its] stability” amid the pandemic, there is still a huge potential for Filipino firms in exporting to EFTA countries using the trade pact.

Gaschen added that the Philippines-EFTA trade pact has allowed the country to have a trade surplus with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, which previously encountered a trade deficit.

A big potential for Philippine enterprises is in the agriculture sector, the envoy said, as EFTA nations are now closely working with the Department of Trade and Industry to fine-tune the FTA.

On the other hand, the EFTA’s trade deal with the country increased Nordic countries’ export of seafood to the Philippines to around 40 percent.

Meanwhile, EU Delegation’s first counselor and head of trade and economic affairs Maurizio Cellini said the GSP+ has allowed an estimate of €2 billion, or around 25 percent of Philippine exports, to enter the EU market at zero tariffs.

Cellini revealed that Philippine agri-food products have greatly benefited from the EU GSP+ trade preference, and that the country’s trade with the EU is recovering its performance prior to the health crisis with the help of the scheme.

“We are now noticing that…trade figures between the EU and the Philippines are approaching their prepandemic levels,” Cellini confirmed. “This is a positive indication that trade relations between the EU and the Philippines remain strong amid the global economic crisis.”

The current GSP+ status of the Philippines will expire by the end of 2023.

The counselor said the EU is updating the current GSP regulation, which will take effect on January 1, 2024.

Image credits: Embassy of Switzerland/PNA


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