Exporters, workers worried of European Union’s threat to suspend GSP+
MANILA – Businessmen and workers expressed concern over several government official’s remarks on the European Parliament’s resolution to suspend the privileges accorded products from the Philippines for alleged failures to adhere to commitments.
Roberto Amores, president of Philippine Food Exporters (PHILFOODEX), a group of small food processors said business has been on the downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as stiff competition from other countries, said offensive reactions are uncalled for.
Speaking at Wednesday Roundtable @ Lido, Mr. Amores said businessmen into exports are already challenged by high cost of production, power, transport, supply chain and strong Philippine currency. He called on the leadership to maintain good relations with other governments that accommodate Philippine products.
“We should have positive relationship with other countries because we need markets. We need not be offensive as it would impact on our exports,” he said.
Atty. Sonny Matula, Nagkaisa Labor Federation Chairperson and Federation of Free Workers president said should the European Union make good its threat, about 600,000 workers in the manufacturing and allied sectors would certainly be affected.
“We need to comply with our commitments to the European Union. There are 27 commitments from Human Rights to recognition and adherence to International Labor Organization resolutions and conventions,” Atty. Matula said. The figures include 100,000 from the moderate Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and over 120,000 direct and indirect workers in the tuna industry in Southern Philippines.
He added 43 labor organizers and leaders have been killed over the past years, the most glaring of which was the labor leader inside an export processing zone.
Trade and Industry Asst. Secretary Allan B. Gepty said periodic assessments have already been made.
“We have already submitted our response to the issues raised by the European Union last September 15,” said Asst. Secretary Gepty during the same virtual forum.
The Philippines exports € 7.63 billion to the European Union where € 2.71 billion are qualified for zero duty under the GSP+ program. He added Philippines exports € 1.95 billion were sent to the European Union last year with a utilization rate of 72 percent of the EU-GSP Plus program. There are 6,274 products granted zero duty since 2015. The top euro earners from the Philippines are coconut oil, vacuum cleaners and tuna. (Melo M. Acuña)
PhilFoodEx President Roberto "Bobby" Amores (left), DTI Asst. Secretary Allan B. Gepty (center) and NAGKAISA Chair and Federation of Free Workers President Atty. Sonny Matula (right) talk about the possible impact of the suspension of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preference from the European Union. (Screen shorts by Melo M. Acuna)