THE removal of tariff perks enjoyed by Philippine exports to Europe will hurt various industries and worsen unemployment, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said.

The European Parliament last week called on the European Commission to start the procedure for suspending the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privilege enjoyed by the Philippines after the government failed to improve the country’s human rights situation.

“We fervently hope that the removal of the GSP preferences by the EU countries will not go ahead. It will make our products less competitive and will seriously impact several industries,” MAP President Francisco E. Lim said in a statement Tuesday.

“It will increase the number of the unemployed among our countrymen at a time when they most need jobs.”

He asked that the Philippine government and the European Commission discuss the issue “in a mutually satisfactory manner,” urging the government to take the matter seriously.

Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said last week that the Philippines does not have much to lose, as it does not fully utilize GSP+.

GSP+ is an incentive agreement in which 6,274 Philippine products enjoy zero-tariff entry to the European Union provided the country adheres to 27 core international conventions that include human and labor rights.

European legislators in the resolution cited Philippine human rights issues, including President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs.

Goods exported under GSP+ preferences usually account for around a quarter of total exports to the EU each year, significantly lower than the leading beneficiary countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, whose utilization rates top 90%.

Palace Spokesman Herminio L. Roque has said that the European Parliament does not have the authority to revoke the trade perks.

Ang European Commission lang ang may kapangyarihan na mag-withdraw ng GSP+ preference (Only the EC has the power to withdraw GSP+),” he said in a briefing Tuesday, adding that no individual government has expressed support for revoking the trade preferences.

Central Bank Governor Benjamin E. Diokno in an ANC interview on Monday said that he believes trade is “welfare enhancing” and benefits both parties.

“The EU is a 27 member (organization) and so I don’t know whether that will be imminent. We have good relations with Germany and France. And so I think it will take time,” he said. — Jenina P. Ibañez