Good for tuna industry: Philippines a step closer to EU’s GSP+ inclusion

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 November)–The Philippines is a step closer to getting included in the European Union’s (EU) Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) list, which once clinched would augur well for the tuna industry here.

The Council of the European Union announced recently that it has no objections to the inclusion of the Philippines to the list of beneficiary countries of the EU’s GSP+.

“The Council decided not to object to a Commission regulation adding the Philippines to the list of beneficiary countries of the EU’s GSP+ system of tariff preferences… It can now enter into force, unless the European Parliament objects,” the EU declared in a statement.

“With this development, our application is now headed to the European Parliament for deliberation. We are optimistic that we will get approval from the EU Parliament before the year ends,” Department of Trade and Industry-Industry Development Group Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said early this week.

Cristobal urged stakeholders to support the Philippines’ strategy in ensuring preparedness of the country to maximize benefits of the EU’s GSP+.

The Philippines officially completed its application process to the GSP+ arrangement last February 27.

The Philippines is currently a beneficiary of the EU GSP where 2,442 products from the country are exported at zero duty while 3,767 are subject to reduced tariffs.

With the inclusion of the Philippines in the EU GSP+ scheme, the Philippines will get to enjoy zero duty for all 6,274 covered products, translating to increase in the country’s exports to the EU, and resulting to more employment opportunities.

Once approved by the EU Parliament, the Philippines will be the only GSP+ beneficiary in the ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Last month, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that inclusion of the country to the GSP+ would boost the agriculture and fisheries sector, particularly citing the tuna industry in this city.

General Santos is the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” being the host of six of the country’s seven tuna canneries and home to big tuna fishing companies.

“With GSP+, we hope to improve our share of EU’s fresh and processed tuna market as it will give our products a better fighting chance,” he said.

Alcala said that the country’s bid for inclusion in GSP+ program received a big boost in September after the meeting in Brussels between President Benigno S Aquino III and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)