Reason for concern

TRADE Secretary Ramon Lopez is rightfully concerned that the fallout from President Rodrigo Duterte’s abrupt rejection of some 250 million euros in development aid from the European Union could hurt the substantial trade advantages that the country enjoys under the bloc’s generalized scheme of preferences.

Since December 2014, Filipino exporters have been able to sell their goods to the European bloc duty-free under the EU’s GSP+ program, a crucial advantage in terms of market access covering over 6,000 product categories. But now the arrangement is under review, and Mr. Duterte’s show of independence could affect how EU officials assess our fitness to continue under their trade program.

The EU guidelines are clear. The full removal of tariffs under GSP+ will be granted only to countries that “ratify and implement core international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance.”

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