Swift approval of EU GSP+ benefits to the Philippines is being urged

Swift approval of EU GSP+ benefits to the Philippines is being urged

The European Commission has given the green light to the Philippines' GSP+ application, in a move that will lead to the removal of import duties on products including textiles and garments shipped to the 28-nation European Union.

The Commission on Friday (5 September) said it had evaluated the Philippines' request for GSP+ treatment, which was filed in February, and has established that the country meets the eligibility criteria.

The EC said the proposal should be adopted as soon as possible "to allow the Philippines to benefit from GSP+ at the earliest possible time" - a move that is also supported by companies sourcing textiles, garments and footwear from the country.

The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) today (9 September) called for "swift approval of GSP+ benefits to the Philippines," noting that the development "opens up attractive quality sourcing opportunities."

"As such decisions have to be made well in advance, it is crucial that the European Parliament and member states now swiftly approve GSP+ for the Philippines to provide much needed clarity to our industry," added Alberto Bichi, FESI secretary general.

The EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) allows developing country exporters to pay fewer or no duties on their exports to the EU. This gives them vital access to EU markets and contributes to their economic growth.

GSP+ offers additional trade incentives to developing countries already benefitting from GSP, to implement core international conventions on human and labour rights, sustainable development and good governance.

The proposal from the European Commission is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and the EU's Member States - although it is unclear how fast the newly elected Parliament will move.

The Philippines is hoping the country will have duty-free status from 1 January 2015. "We hope that before the year ends, the application will be approved by the EU parliament," confirmed trade undersecretary Adrian Cristobal.

Cristobal added that increased exports to EU as a result of the GSP+ scheme will translate to enhanced production capacity. Sectors with the highest preferential margins between general GSP and GSP+ include garments (9.0%), textile products (5%), and footwear (4%).