European Council welcomes Marcos bid to pursue FTA with EU, strengthen GSP+ accreditation
The European Council (EC) on Thursday welcomed President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s push to pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) with the trade bloc and bolster the country’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) accreditation.
This comes after the President met with European Council President Ursula Von der Leyen on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union (ASEAN-EU) commemorative summit in Belgium on Thursday.
In the meeting, Marcos said he expects the expansion of talks on the FTA between the Philippines and the EU as well as the renewal of the country's GSP+ status.
Von der Leyen said the GSP+ "would open the door for much easier start into going into free trade agreement negotiations."
The country has sought to renew its participation in the European Union's Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus and will continue to pursue a free trade agreement with the trade bloc.
"Let's work on it," Von der Leyer told Marcos, referring to talks on the renewal of the country's GSP+ status.
In his remarks at the Philippines-EU business roundtable, Marcos noted that the Philippines is "the only ASEAN country to benefit from the EU GSP Plus."
Th GSP+ is one of the EU’s specialized incentive arrangements for sustainable development and good governance in the form of zero duties.
It is a unilateral trade arrangement which offers zero tariffs on 6,274 products or 66 percent of all EU tariff lines.
Before the Philippines applied for the GSP+, it was using the Standard GSP. In 2012, and out of 140 beneficiaries, the Philippines was the 20th largest user of this scheme.
In June of the same year, the EU announced that the Philippines was included in the list of countries eligible to apply for the revised GSP+ program for 2014-2023.
In return, the country is expected to effectively implement 27 international core conventions on labor rights, human rights, good governance, and the environment.
"While the Philippines awaits the resumption of the PH-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations, we remain committed to maintain our EU GSP+ beneficiary status, serving as a stepping-stone towards this FTA," Marcos told European business leaders.
"We also have an FTA with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) namely, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, which provides the Philippines duty-free market access to all industrial and fisheries products to the Member States," Marcos pointed out.
The negotiations for the EU-Philippines FTA started in 2016. The last round of negotiations was held in Cebu City in 2017.
Since then, negotiations have been on hiatus. Presidential News Desk