[From Left to Right: Ryszard Czarnecki – European Conservatives and Reformists Group, Karsten Lucke– Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament, Hannah Neumann – The Greens and the European Free Alliance, DTI Secretary Fred Pascual, Isabel Wiseler-Lima – Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament, DTI Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty, Miguel Urban Crespo – The Left in the European Parliament] 

MAKATI CITY—On 22 February 2023, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual met the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Sub-Committee on Human Rights and underscored that the EU has been one of the Philippines’ major trading partners and a major source of foreign direct investments. Further, he highlighted the importance of the EU-GSP+ to the growing PH-EU economic relations and cited that 26% of the country’s exports availed of our EU-GSP+. The EU delegation was led by MEP Hannah Neumann.  

Among the areas discussed during the meeting were PH-EU economic relations, the European Union Generalized Scheme of Preferences-Plus (EU-GSP+), and a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA). 

Secretary Fred Pascual said, “This preferential scheme benefited not just local industries but even foreign investors doing business in the country. This scheme helped us in transforming lives and communities in the Philippines consistent with our efforts to promote socio-economic development.” 

Further, Secretary Pascual informed the EU of the recent economic developments in the country, including the Senate concurrence on the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. Likewise, DTI highlighted the recent economic reforms and investment liberalization efforts undertaken by the country, such as the passage of amendments to the Public Service Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the opening of renewable energy projects to 100% foreign equity. 

Equally important, both sides discussed the prospects of the EU-GSP+ and PH-EU FTA.  

DTI conveyed the country’s confidence to achieve upper middle-income status, as well as the country’s long-term interest to resume the PH-EU FTA negotiations.  

“With the positive developments in our relations and growing economic performance of the country, these all-merit further consideration of elevating PH-EU relations through an FTA. DTI proposes, with the Parliament’s support, the continuation of the PH-EU FTA negotiations, as the FTA will provide a more stable and permanent platform for our trade and investment”, Secretary Pascual mentioned. 

[From Left to Right: Director Angelo Benedictos, Secretary Fred Pascual, Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty]

The EU side thanked the DTI for its recent Missions in Brussels, which showed the country’s willingness to discuss the benefits and implementation of the EU-GSP+. The meeting is part of the Department’s sustained engagement with the Members of the European Parliament to demonstrate the country’s openness for deeper and meaningful PH-EU dialogue.   

Since the successful application of the Philippines to the GSP+ in 2014, the country has enjoyed greater market access to the EU, which led to a significant increase in exports. For 2021, total exports to the EU amounted to EUR7.77 billion. In terms of eligible exports, EUR2.68 billion worth of PH exports is covered by GSP+, of which EUR2.03 billion is availed of GSP+ preferences (or 26% of PH’s total exports). GSP+ utilization grew by 7 percentage points from 68.3% in 2015 to an all-time high of 76% in 2021.  Further, in 2021, top GSP exports include crude coconut oil, vacuum cleaners, electro-thermic hairdressing apparatus, prepared/preserved tunas, spectacle lenses, lead-acid accumulators, electric hairdryers, and new pneumatic tires. The Philippines is the only country in the ASEAN region that benefits from the scheme. 

Also present during the meeting were DTI Industry Development and Trade Policy Group Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty, DTI Bureau of International Trade Relations Director Angelo Salvador M. Benedictos, representatives from the European parliament namely, Isabel Wiseler-Lima from the Group of the European People’s Party, Karsten Lucke from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, Hannah Neumann from The Greens and the European Free Alliance, Ryszard Czarnecki from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and Miguel Urban Crespo from The Left. *

Date of release: 25 February 2023