THE Philippines will retain its preferential trade access after the UK’s exit from the European Union, British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said.

The Philippines currently enjoys duty-free entry of up to 6,274 products to the European Union (EU) under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences plus scheme (GSP+), which is set to expire at the end of 2023.

Mr. Pruce told reporters on Tuesday that the scheme will continue in the UK after it fully transitions from the EU.

“We have guaranteed that when we move out of the current relationship, so at the end of this year, we will maintain on a national level a mirror of the GSP+ scheme,” he said.

“There will be no change in terms of the tariff preferences that the Philippines enjoys in its relationship with the UK.”

The Philippines must comply with 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection, and good governance under the EU scheme.

Mr. Pruce did not say whether or not the UK will continue this monitoring, but maintains that the preferences available under the scheme will continue.

“The UK remains a very active and engaged player in the international community and the principles that we stand up for, the values we hold dear, the conventions that we are committed to. Obviously, we will sustain our role in the world.”

He said the Philippines and the UK will have another dialogue on economic relations in April.

“We are masters of our own trade policy. We are no longer bound by the EU’s trade policy, so we have the opportunity to talk to all of our partners with whom we trade and collaborate around the world in terms of what the shape of what the future relationship will look like.”

The UK officially left the EU on Jan. 31, and the transition period continues until Dec. 31, 2020.

Philippine exports to the UK fell 7.9% to $492 million in 2019, accounting for 0.7% of total Philippine exports, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Exports to the EU fell 7.8% to $8.22 billion in 2019, accounting for 11.68% of total Philippine exports. — Jenina P. Ibañez