Legarda: Phl pursues reapplication for EU’s trade preference scheme

The Philippines’ participation in the GSP+ will expire in December 2023. Countries that wish to apply must uphold 27 international conventions on human rights, labor, environment and climate protection, and good governance.

Legarda met with Othmar Karas, the First Vice President of the European Parliament and Head of Delegation of the Austrian Peoples’ Party in the European Parliament, on 27 October in Brussels, Belgium. | PHOTOGRAPHs COURTESY OF OFFICE OF SEN. LOREN LEGARDA

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda has disclosed that the Philippines is pushing for reapplication for the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which grants developing countries a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance.

Legarda said this was the highlight of their meeting with Othmar Karas, the First Vice President of the European Parliament and Head of Delegation of the Austrian Peoples’ Party in the European Parliament, on 27 October in Brussels, Belgium.

“The Philippines has been benefitting from the GSP+ since 1994, and it has helped improve our country’s socio-economic development. During our meeting in Belgium, we requested the EU to allow us to reapply for GSP+. We appealed to continue including the Philippines in the scheme because we are a good ally in ASEAN, we have a young and skilled workforce, and our country is an ideal destination for investment,” said Legarda.

‘My colleagues and I assured the EU that we share the same advocacies,’ said Legarda, with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri (left) and Senator JV Ejercito (third from right).

According to the European Commission, the trade in goods between the Philippines and the EU equaled €15.2 billion in 2021, while the bilateral trade in services between the nations reached €4.9 billion in 2019. It also said that the EU is the largest foreign investor in the Philippines, with its direct investment stock of €14.4 billion in the same year.

The Department of Trade and Industry, meanwhile, reported that the Philippines posted a record utilization rate for GSP+ of 76 percent in 2021, and that the country has benefitted from increased market access to the EU since its successful application in 2014.

The Philippines’ participation in the GSP+ will expire in December 2023. Countries that wish to apply must uphold 27 international conventions on human rights, labor, environment and climate protection, and good governance.

Along with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, who led the Philippine delegations to France and Belgium respectively, Legarda assured the EU that the Philippines addresses such matters, especially human rights issues.

“Our country stands for the rights of our women, men, and children, of the poorest, most marginalized, and vulnerable populations. We have many laws that protect the welfare of our people such as the Anti-Domestic Violence Act and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, which I authored,” she said.

Legarda also stressed that the EU-Philippines Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation, which she sponsored in 2017 as former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is an essential and vital aspect of the relationship between the nations.

She said that the first EU-Philippines Joint Committee meeting held in Brussels in 2020 had allowed the enhancement of cooperation in various sectors and was a key to the strengthened ties between the EU and the country.

“My colleagues and I assured the EU that we share the same advocacies. The Philippines has a lot to offer to the EU in terms of investments and business opportunities as our country is strategically located in the Indo-Pacific, and has one of the most dynamic and resilient economies in the Asia-Pacific region,” Legarda concluded.


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