06 May 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

THE Philippines has secured a commitment from the United Kingdom on having the same level of market access to UK post-Brexit, under any scenario, including a no-deal Brexit, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

This level will be similar to the preferential market access the Philippines currently enjoys under the European Union Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU GSP+).

Overall, Lopez said, any post-Brexit scenario should not have a significant effect on the Philippines. In a statement, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said this commitment downplays the study from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released this month that the Philippines would be the 12th trading partner to be most affected in a post-Brexit scenario, as the study did not consider ongoing bilateral talks between the Philippines and the UK.

For the past two months, the DTI said, the Philippines has engaged the UK in three high-level dialogues. These are the first meeting with UK Prime Minister’s trade envoy Richard Graham on February 20; the first-ever PH-UK Economic Dialogue held on March 21; and a meeting with UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office chief economist Richard Salt on March 22.

In all of these engagements, the UK assured the country’s representatives about the continuation of the Philippines’s GSP+ level market access to the UK post-Brexit, the DTI noted.

Moreover, the UK emphasized that the Philippines is one of its important trading partners in Asia, as evidenced by the Philippine visit of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific Natalie Black in October 2018.

“The Philippines has taken a more proactive stance in its promotion as an investment destination for UK companies during the London Investor’s Roadshow in September 2018. These series of high-level exchanges and visits signal the Philippines’s close engagement with UK on improving bilateral economic relations as UK exits the EU,” Lopez stated.

The UK accounts for less than 10 percent of total Philippine exports to the EU, with almost 11 percent of Philippine exports to the EU under the GSP+ going to the UK, and 35 percent of total Philippine exports to the UK for 2017 being made under GSP+.

“The retention of the Philippines’s GSP+ level preferential market access to the UK is a huge assurance for Philippine exporters. For products that are not covered by the GSP+, Most Favored Nation [MFN] rates will apply. On this front, the Philippines is also actively engaged in negotiations in the World Trade Organization for the final MFN bound rates that the UK will apply after Brexit to ensure that products of interest for the Philippines will not be prejudiced by any changes,” the trade chief said.