ABS CBN | 5 June 2023
Trade chief to fly to Brussels to bat for PH-EU free trade deal
by Jessica Fenol
MANILA — Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said on Tuesday he will be in Brussels this month to continue talks on the Philippines’ trade with the European Union and the country’s bid to have a free trade deal with the EU.
The Philippines’ access to the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) is set to expire at the end of the year.
Access to the GSP+ allows the duty-free export of some 6,000 eligible products to the EU, subject to compliance with international agreements. In a Palace briefing, Pascual said the country’s push to become an upper middle-income country may also make it ineligible to keep accessing this preferential trade scheme.
"Pag naging upper-middle-income country ang Pilipinas, hindi na tayo eligible sa GSP+...Binanggit na rin sa akin yan ng mga parliamentarians na bumisita sa opisina ko. Sabi ko nga kailangan mag umpisa na tayo mag negotiate ng free trade agreement [FTA]," he added.
(Once we’re an upper-middle-income country we’re no longer eligible for the GSP+...This was mentioned to me by the parliamentarians who visited my office. I said we need to initiate the negotiations on a free trade agreement.)
National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said last year that the Philippines could become an upper-middle-income country by 2024.
According to the World Bank, an upper-middle-income country has a gross national income (GNI) per capita of between $4,096 and $12,695.
Economic managers of the previous administration believed the feat could have been achieved earlier if the COVID-19 pandemic did not occur.
The Philippines meanwhile has sought to establish an FTA with the EU.
President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr last year met with the European Council President Ursula Von der Leyen on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union (ASEAN-EU) summit in Belgium.