THE European Union (EU) is providing export opportunities for Philippine agricultural products such as coconut oil, bananas, pineapples, among others, according to the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport).
In a statement, Philexport noted, however, that local businesses need to meet “relevant” requirements to tap into this market and benefit from the Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) preferential scheme.
Theresa Sederiosa, chief trade and industry specialist in the Industry Development Division at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Region 7, said key agricultural products eligible for preferential market access to the EU under the GSP+ scheme are coconut oil, bananas, pineapples, tuna, as well as products derived therefrom.
“You will see that if the product falls under the GSP+ rate, it is most beneficial for
us because it is either zero or lower than the MFN [most favored nation] tariff rates,” she said at the Usapang Exports organized by the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau.
This, as GSP+ beneficiaries can benefit from complete duty suspension for products across around 66 percent of all EU tariff lines, including sensitive products, Philexport noted.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), exports of agricultural goods from the Philippines to the EU in 2021 amounted to USD1.39 billion, or equivalent to 16.3 percent of the country’s total exports to the EU.
The top three agricultural commodities exported from the Philippines to the EU are crude coconut oil, prepared or preserved tuna, and desiccated coconuts.
For non-food agricultural products, Sederiosa said most of the Philippines’s exports of bamboo and rattan products are eligible for GSP+ preferences.
Bamboo and rattan are used for construction materials, tableware, kitchenware, basketware and furniture Eurostat. Recent innovations made possible more uses for bamboo, such as for textile material.
“While some products have successfully utilized the GSP preferences, utilization rates for other products can still improve,” she said. “Meaning, there are some of the GSP+ preferences that are not being used by the current exporters to the EU, so that is why we need to conduct information sessions so that you will know which ones qualify and which ones do not.”
To export agricultural products, Sederiosa said businesses need first to comply with the steps required in the Philippines.
She said they need to register in accordance with specified procedures, prepare export documents, request and obtain an export permit for regulated products, prepare forms for Customs clearance, and check legal notifications pertaining to specific aspects.
“Certain export documents must be obtained for food products that are regulated for export according to Philippine law. Exporters must obtain the necessary accreditations and apply for export clearances or permits. These are obtained through the particular government agencies regulating the specific products,” she added.
Sederiosa also underscored the need for exporters to comply with any product-specific rules that apply to products to be placed on the EU market.
She advised them to check the applicable import regimes for products of non-animal origin, the EU maximum levels for relevant contaminants, the relevant EU rules on plant protection and maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides, special rules for instance for organic or genetically modified products, and any labeling requirements.