In response to the recent passage of a resolution from the European Union (EU) Parliament raising concerns, among others, on the status of human rights in the Philippines that may affect the country’s EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP plus) privileges, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) stressed that there is a dialogue mechanism in place where the said issues and concerns can be further clarified.
According to Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, the Philippines has been very cooperative with the EU and has repeatedly addressed these concerns in existing dialogue mechanisms. He stressed that the Philippines remains compliant with the 27 international core conventions on human rights, labor, environment and good governance to enjoy GSP plus treatment.
“The allegations are not new, and the Philippine government has always responded and been giving submissions to facilitate the EU GSP plus monitoring to show the country’s compliance with the 27 international core conventions on HR, labor, environment and good governance.”
He underscored that GSP plus preferences have continued to benefit the Philippines, particularly the marginalized sectors, and noted the system’s importance in addressing poverty and inequality.
“To date, the Philippines still enjoys EU GSP plus preferences, and this actually redounds to the benefit not only of the investors but the marginalized sectors of the economy, the fisherfolks, farmers, MSMEs, the workers in the value chain of the exporters, precisely fulfilling the objectives of the GSP plus, which is to help address poverty and inequality.”
He highlighted that the EU has been a key partner in pursuing development goals and expressed hope that the EU would continue to play this role in the future.
“Our partnership becomes more relevant as we work towards post pandemic recovery. The EU GSP plus would be instrumental in encouraging investments in the country as well as sustaining job generation”, Lopez added.
In 2020, Philippine exports to the EU under GSP plus amounted to 1.6 billion Euros, representing an all-time high utilization rate of 75 percent for eligible exports. The scheme benefits several communities such as, but not limited to General Santos, Davao, Cebu, and economic zones located in Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas, where most exporters, taking advantage of the scheme, are located.
For his part, Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty reiterated that, as in the past, the Philippine government is more than willing to cooperate and work with the EU to clarify and shed light to these issues and concerns.
“This is not the first time that the European Parliament approved such kind of resolutions. The European Parliament has also passed similar resolutions in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020. The Philippine government remains ready to cooperate and work with the EU to clarify these issues and concerns”. Gepty said