MAKATI CITY—Department of Trade and Industry’s Undersecretary for Communications and Legislative Affairs Maria Blanca Kim Bernardo-Lokin highlighted the benefits that the Philippines acquires from a strengthened PH-EU bilateral relations during a keynote message she delivered on behalf of DTI Secretary Fred Pascual during the EU-Philippines Business Dialogue held on 25 May 2023 at Dusit Thani Hotel.

“The Philippines has enjoyed trade concessions from the European Union via the Generalised System of Preferences Plus. The EU GSP+ was extended to the Philippine exports in 2014, resulting in substantial export growth. In 2021, total exports to the EU reached EUR7.7 billion, with EUR2.7 billion eligible for GSP+,” she said.

She added, “Utilizing GSP+ preferences for EUR2.0 billion of exports, the Philippines achieved a 76% utilization rate, marking an all-time high and a 12-percentage-point increase from 2015.”

Likewise, she mentioned that discussions regarding renewal are already underway as the country’s GSP+ expires at the end of 2023. Recently, Swedish Minister for International Development and Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell and the EU-ASEAN Business Advisory Council (EU-ABC) expressed support for the renewal of the GSP+. Its renewal is set to deliver a win-win outcomes for both the Philippines and the European business community.

Undersecretary Lokin also pointed out that the Philippine-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (PH-EFTA FTA) has significantly contributed to the growth of the country’s exports. From 2018 to 2021, Philippine exports to EFTA grew by 46%, which resulted in trade surpluses after the FTA’s implementation.

As representative of DTI Secretary Fred Pascual, Undersecretary Lokin also shared during the event that the DTI Secretary is currently in Detroit, Michigan to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade (APEC-MRT) meeting which will focus on how APEC can support the multilateral trading system. He will also be attending several bilateral and business meetings.

The EU-PH Business Dialogue is an event organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC), it showcased a series of high-level discussions centered on how the Philippines can further promote itself as an investment destination.

Aside from Undersecretary Lokin, the event was also attended by the Ambassador of the EU to the Philippines H.E. Luc Veron; Special Assistant to the President Hon. Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo, Jr; Executive Secretary Hon. Justice Lucas P. Bersamin; Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno; ECCP President Lars Wittig and other private and public sector representatives. *

Date of release: 26 May 2023