The Philippines (PH) has secured a commitment from the United Kingdom (UK) on continuing the same level of market access to UK post-Brexit, under any scenario, including a no-deal Brexit. This will be similar to the preferential market access, currently enjoyed under the European Union Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+). Overall, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that any post-Brexit scenario should not have a significant effect on PH.
This downplayed the recent study from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that PH will be the 12th trading partner that will be most affected in a post-Brexit scenario, as the study did not take into consideration ongoing bilateral talks between PH and UK.
For the past two months, PH has engaged the UK on three high level dialogues: 1) meeting with UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy Richard Graham on 20 February 2019; 2) the first-ever PH-UK Economic Dialogue held on 21 March 2019; and 3) meeting with UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Chief Economist Richard Salt on 22 March 2019. In all of these engagements, UK has given reassurances about the continuation of PH’s GSP+ level market access to the UK post-Brexit.
Moreover, UK has emphasized that PH is one of its important trading partners in Asia, evidenced by the PH visit of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific Natalie Black in October 2018.
“PH has taken a more proactive stance in its promotion as an investment destination for UK companies during the London Investor’s Roadshow in September 2018. These series of high-level exchanges and visits signal PH’s close engagement with UK on improving bilateral economic relations as UK exits the EU,” said Sec. Lopez.
UK accounts for less than 10% of total PH exports to the EU, with almost 11% of PH’s exports to the EU under the GSP+ going to the UK and 35% of total PH exports to the UK for 2017 were made under GSP+.
“The retention of the Philippines’s GSP+ level preferential market access to the UK is a huge assurance for PH exporters. For products that are not covered by the GSP+, Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rates will apply; on this front, PH is also actively engaged in negotiations in the WTO for the final MFN bound rates that UK will apply after Brexit to ensure that products of interest for the PH will not be prejudiced by any changes,” Sec. Lopez further said.