EXPORTERS have been advised to expect new UK tariffs with the launch of a separate British preferential trade access scheme after it exited the European Union, the UK ambassador-designate said.

The UK’s trade preferences scheme, due next year, will be known as the Developing Countries Trading Scheme. It replaces the EU scheme it had maintained since its formal departure from the European Union.

The Philippines enjoys duty-free entry for more than 6,000 products to the EU under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences plus (GSP+).

“We’re now looking at making improvements to that scheme such as lowering tariffs or simplifying rules of origin requirements,” British Ambassador-Designate to the Philippines Laure Beaufils said at a virtual event last week.

“We’ll be putting in place our own system in the year to come, which should hopefully support greater trade between our businesses in the UK and the Philippines.” 

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently called on Philippine exporters to participate in public consultations on the new UK scheme, which include discussions on the possible trigger events that could lead to the suspension of preferences and rules of origin requirements.

Ms. Beaufils said that a free trade agreement (FTA) between the UK and the Philippines in the near future is not likely.

“It’s not really a priority right now,” she said. “The priority right now is on thinking about what is going to replace what has been called GSP+, which we rolled over when we left the European Union.”

“And I think that will provide some new opportunities to work differently and deepen our trade relationship.”

She said there is no talk of a bilateral trade agreement because “from the British government perspective, there are only so many such FTAs that we can do at a time” given the long negotiation process.

Philippine exports to the UK are valued at about $450 million a year, led by tuna, desiccated coconut, abaca fiber, spectacle lenses, and semiconductors, the DTI said. — Jenina P. Ibañez