ECCP pitches urgency of EU-PHL FTA talks

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FOLLOWING the European Commission’s proposal to extend the European Union Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU GSP+) for the Philippines, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) has stressed the urgency anew of concluding the talks on a free-trade deal between the EU and the Philippines. This, it said, will increase market competitiveness, among others. In a statement on Thursday, the ECCP welcomed the proposal of the European Commission (EC) to extend the EU GSP+ grant to the Philippines, saying the Philippines has “greatly” benefited from such a scheme.

On July 4,2023, the EC announced through an Explanatory Memorandum that it is proposing to extend the validity of the current GSP regulation for an additional four years or until December 31,2027.

The European Commission, an executive arm of the European Union, is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation. The ball is now with the European Parliament, the legislative arm of the EU, to decide on the proposal to extend the GSP+ scheme for the Philippines. (Full story here: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2023/07/06/ec-move-to-extend-eu-gsp-bodes-well-for-phl-says-dti/)

Citing data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the ECCP said, “With a 77 percent utilization rate, €2.93 billion worth of Philippine products were exported to the EU using GSP+ last year,” adding that among the top exports to the EU include crude coconut oil, tuna, pineapple, other agricultural products, among others.

But besides the EU GSP+, the Chamber underscored the “urgency and importance of a timely and successful conclusion of the EU-Philippines FTA.”

According to ECCP, the EU-PH FTA will lead to improved trade and investment opportunities, resulting in economic diversification, increased market competitiveness and openness, better employment prospects, and innovation and technological advancements.

Moreover, such a deal “would also help contribute towards achieving a greener, more inclusive, and sustainable Philippines,” the Chamber said.

ECCP FTA poll

Meanwhile, as the European-Philippine business community pointed out the “strong sense of urgency” in the conclusion of the EU-PH FTA talks, the ECCP said it conducted an ECCP FTA survey during the first half of 2023.

The survey among 200 respondents from the European-Philippine business community showed 81 percent believe that holding the conclusion of the EU-PH FTA talks is significant for their respective company and business strategies, while almost 80 percent of the respondent sees the importance of the resumption of the EU-PH FTA talks.

“This shows a strong appetite for the recommencement and conclusion of EU-PH FTA talks. The ECCP continues to advocate for the timely conclusion of the said FTA deal,” ECCP said.

The results of the survey showed that if concluded, about 83 percent of the respondents anticipate “heavy utilization” of the EU-PH trade deal.

In particular, 42 percent of the respondents in the European-Philippine business community said they expect to use the deal for trade in goods while 23 percent will use it for trade in goods and services; 26 percent will use it for trade in services.

In addition, ECCP noted that sourcing locations as well as priority-end markets were identified as the “key factors for the development of an FTA optimization strategy of the respondents’ respective firms.”

The survey also identified that the major bottlenecks in trade are “onerous customs and administrative procedures, charges on imports, license requirements, red tape,” among others.

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