September 23, 2020 at 08:50 pm
Othel V. Campos
The Philippines stands to lose at least 2 billion euros worth of commodity exports to the European Union if the Philippine government fails to renegotiate the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus amid issues on human rights and good governance.
The EU-GSP is a preferential and unilateral trade program that offers tariff-free entry to some 6,724 Philippine products to the EU in exchange for compliance with 27 international conventions.
Members of the Management Association of the Philippines warned the cancellation of EU-GSP would bring more harm to the economy.
“We fervently hope that the removal of the GSP preferences by the EU countries will not push through. It will make our products less competitive and will seriously impact on several industries. It will increase the number of the unemployed among our countrymen at the time when they most need jobs,” MAP president Francis Lim said.
“Our economy will suffer more damage, especially given the contraction we are already experiencing with the pandemic,” he said.
The MAP said the government should not take the matter lightly for the sake of the Filipino people. “We hope it will be discussed and addressed by both parties in a mutually satisfactory manner,” it said.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said his department already communicated its response to the query of the EU on proposed legislation to reimpose death penalty and the lowering of the age for crime accountability from 15 years to 12 years.
“This is not the first time that this happened, so we are addressing this by giving them the right information and facts. And so far, we’ve been faring well. This is I think is the third or fourth time that the EU parliament has passed similar resolution. We’re able to explain all issues that are raised every year. We are able to give our side, give them correct information and numbers,” Lopez said Wednesday.
Lopez said the final decision rests not on the EU parliament but on the EU Delegation to the Philippines.
Agriculture and fishery products will be severely impacted if the Philippines would lose the privilege granted through the trading program, according to Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Association president Roberto Amores.
Amores said these products include dried and frozen mangoes, dried and frozen pineapples, banana chips and all worker-intensive industries.
“We badly need this especially in this time of pandemic. Considering the major challenges we are facing in the export sector, we have competitiveness issues, cost of production, logistics, supply chain and adding to these is the forex issue. If we lose GSP+, we will be heavily burdened,” Amores said in a virtual round table discussion.
The Federation of Free Workers also claimed that some 600,000 workers in the tuna industry would lose their livelihood if the Philippine government failed to renegotiate the trade perks.