Britain to keep duty free access of PH products

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Former British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said the United Kingdom will continue to offer duty free access to most Philippine products, even after London’s European Union exit.

“This includes the GSP+ for the Philippines,” Ahmad said in a farewell message to the Philippines.

Ahmad left the country Tuesday for another diplomatic assignment. He was succeeded by Daniel Pruce, who came from Thailand where he served as UK deputy chief of mission.

A report from the UK website said “the commitment means that around 48 countries across the globe, from Bangladesh to Sierra Leone, Haiti and Ethiopia will continue to benefit from duty-free exports into the UK on all goods other than arms and ammunition, known as ‘everything but arms’.”

Asif Ahmad

The Philippines was one of the beneficiaries of the EU Generalized System of Preference Plus, a 10-year program  that gives the Philippines a larger export coverage of 6,274 tariff lines at lower if not zero tariff. The reckoning was December 2014.

GSP+ provides market access to Filipino exporters and allows cheaper Philippine products for  EU consumers or cheaper inputs for their manufacturers.  

Government data showed that Philippine exports to the EU, under the EU-GSP+, increased 27 percent in 2015. It has yet to release 2016 statistics on EU-GSP+.

The Philippines was previouslycovered by the regular EU-GSP which provided zero duty to only 2,442 products and reduced tariffs for 3,767 products.  

Trade undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo earlier said that being a beneficiary of the EU-GSP+ program was an essential achievement of the Philippines’ strategy to sustain and nurture the country’s trade and investment relations with Europe.

According to the European Union’s monitoring report, the Philippines has been making good progress on the implementation of its commitments under the EU-GSP+. 

The Philippines beneficiary status under the GSP+ necessitates the ratification and implementation of 27 international treaties and conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment and governance. 

Major exports of the Philippines under the EU GSP scheme include crude coconut oil, canned tuna, pneumatic tires, spectacle lenses, relays, preserved fruits, board and similar cabinets for electric control or the distribution of electricity and ballasts for discharge lamps.

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