MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Italy raised the possibility of increasing trade and investment, with Manila becoming a possible manufacturing base for export to the European Union (EU) under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
This was discussed during the meeting between Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome on Wednesday, December 2.
The GSP is a 10-year trade scheme which grants Philippine exporters zero tariff in the shipping of at least 6,274 products to the EU.
The Philippines, which has been included in the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), is seen to rake in an additional 600 million euros ($733.76 million*) worth of additional exports, said Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo last year. (READ: Zero-tariff exports to EU a Christmas gift for PH traders)
The Philippines is already a beneficiary of the EU’s GSP.
A major benefit from GSP+ is the attraction of new industrial investments in sectors where relatively high tariffs are slashed to zero under the scheme.
These include Filipino exports that are labor-intensive, such as pineapple juice, garments, preserved fruits, tuna, fruit jams, jellies, and footwear.
The Philippines also has a Free Trade Agreement with Japan, and it is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community that boosts its viability as a trade and investment partner.
Apart from discussing trade opportunities between the two countries, Aquino and Renzi also talked about the Philippines’ case against China before a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal.
The Italian leader expressed support for the Philippines, according to a Palace statement released on Thursday, December 3. (READ: Italy affirms support for PH fight in South China Sea row)
Renzi, a former mayor of Florence, Italy, also praised the 171,000 Filipino workforce in his country, describing them as “highly integrated workers.”
The Italian prime minister likewise congratulated Aquino for the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last month, as well as for the peace process in Mindanao.
Aquino in return thanked Renzi for Italy’s support in providing the Philippines with Augusta helicopters intended for disaster relief. – Rappler.com