By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star), Oct 23, 2017
MANILA, Philippines — If the Philippines loses its Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privileges with the European Union (EU), it can still tap other markets to recoup export losses, a private sector export leader said.
Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the country stands to lose between $100 million and $200 million in export income should it be stripped of its EU-GSP+ privileges due to the alleged cases of extrajudicial killings in the country.
However, the amount of potential export income to be lost, according to Ortiz-Luis, can easily be recovered through other markets.
“The removal of the EU-GSP privileges is not fatal because my estimate is if that will be removed, it is about $100 million to $200 million. And if you surrender to all these demands, what for? To keep that $200 million exports? We can easily recover that elsewhere,” Ortiz-Luis said.
“So they should not brag about it that much because for me, I’d rather keep my pride if that is only the losses. First of all, not everyone is benefitting from that GSP+ at the moment,” he said.
According to Ortiz-Luis, 23 percent of the country’s total exports to the EU utilize the GSP+ scheme.
“It means 77 percent does not need GSP+. So if there is a loss then potentially it’s that 23 percent but that does not necessarily mean all of that 23 percent will be lost, perhaps only 10 or 15 percent of that,” he said.
The Philippines was granted beneficiary country status under the EU-GSP+ in December 2014, allowing the country to export 6,274 eligible products duty-free to the EU market.
The country’s beneficiary status under the GSP+, however, necessitates the implementation of the 27 international treaties and conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment, and governance.
Concerns have earlier been raised from the EU about the rising number of drug-related killings in the country.
The country’s GSP+ status is currently being reviewed and a report is set to be released by January next year.
“But to give into the protocols…there are so many impositions like now, human rights is part of GSP+, environment is part of GSP+. It’s costly to us if we agree on all these things,” Ortiz-Luis said.
The Department of Trade and Industry said there are currently 2,259 Filipino exporters to the EU, with top export merchandise include electronics, printers, and aerospace products.
Last year, the agency said EU-GSP+ utilization among exporters has improved to 71 percent.