The Philippines has officially applied for GSP Plus status with the European Union (EU). The government formally announced its intent to file for the first time last August after the EU revised GSP criteria to emphasize the inclusion of “countries most in need.”
In addition to the country’s centrally important tuna industry, the textile and apparel industries have been advocating for the designation aggressively, expecting to receive significant advantages if the Philippines should obtain duty-free access to the EU’s twenty-seven member nations. The two sectors collectively comprise more than 50 percent of the the country’s industrial labor force, according to Adrian Cristobal, the Philippines’ trade secretary. Cristobal said, “The manufacturing industry roadmap identifies government interventions in assisting the private sector in gaining more access to markets. The sustainability of the tuna and garments sectors will greatly contribute to the revival of the country’s manufacturing industry since these sectors account for more than 50 percent of the country’s industry labor force.”
Currently, the Philippines enjoys regular GSP, which applies to more than 6,029 products. Within that group, 2,442 products can be exported into EU territory completely duty-free.
According to the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry, GSP Plus status could increase the nation’s exports to the EU by approximately $842 million, a nearly 12 percent jump in comparison to 2012. The export growth, according to some expert estimates, could translate into as many as 250,000 new manufacturing jobs.
Philippine exports in 2011 totaled $2.14 billion, of which $1.92 billion were apparel products and $162 million textiles. The US is the primary destination for the nation’s exports, absorbing 59 percent of them, with the EU accounting for 13 percent and Japan 9 percent. In 2009, the textile and apparel industries were responsible for more than 13 percent of the overall workforce.
The review of the Philippines’ application by EU authorities is expected to take approximately ten months.