THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) proposed to renew the Philippines’ participation in the European Union’s (EU) Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) by another four years, the Trade department said on Wednesday.

“With the extension of the GSP, it opens up tremendous opportunity for the Philippines to strengthen trade relations with the EU. We will seize this opportunity and work toward maximizing the benefits for our exporters and the overall economic development of our country,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in a statement on Wednesday.

In an explanatory memorandum dated July 4, the European Commission proposed to extend the validity of the current EU-GSP regulation, which is set to expire by end-2023, until Dec. 31, 2027.  However, this still needs the approval of the European Parliament and the European Council.

The Philippines participates in the EU’s GSP+, a special incentive arrangement for low and lower middle-income countries. Under the scheme, the Philippines is required to uphold commitments to 27 international conventions on human rights, labor, good governance and climate action.

The Philippines has been threatened with the loss of GSP+ status during the Duterte administration over the war on drugs and alleged human rights violations.

The European Parliament in February last year passed a resolution asking the Philippines to act on human rights abuses or face losing trade perks under GSP+.

GSP+ allows the Philippines to enjoy zero tariffs on 6,274 products or 66% of all EU tariff lines. Some of the top Philippine GSP+ exports to the EU are crude coconut oil, vacuum cleaners, prepared or preserved tuna, hairdressing equipment, and prepared or preserved pineapple.

“The GSP extension is a significant boost for our exporters. It will enable them to maintain their competitive edge in the EU market and expand their trade volumes. This development reinforces our commitment to strengthen our trade relations with the European Union,” Mr. Pascual said.

Mr. Pascual met with EU officials last week during the Brussels leg of the DTI’s Europe Investment Roadshow regarding the renewal of the GSP scheme.

DTI data showed 2.93 billion euros worth of Philippine products were exported to the EU using GSP+ rates last year, equivalent to a 77% utilization rate. — RMDO