The Philippines has secured a commitment from the United Kingdom (UK) on having the same level of market access to UK post-Brexit, under any scenario, including a no-deal Brexit, according to Trade and Industry secretary Ramon Lopez.
This level will be similar to the preferential market access the Philippines currently enjoys under the European Union Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+).
Overall, Lopez said, any post-Brexit scenario should not have a significant effect on the Philippines.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in a statement said this commitment downplays the study from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released this month that the Philippines would be the 12th trading partner to be most affected in a post-Brexit scenario, as the study did not consider ongoing bilateral talks between the Philippines and UK.
For the past two months, DTI said, the Philippines has engaged the UK in three high- level dialogues. These are the first meeting with UK Prime Minister’s trade envoy Richard Graham on February 20; the first-ever PH-UK Economic Dialogue held on March 21; and a meeting with UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office chief economist Richard Salt on March 22.
In all of these engagements, UK has given reassurances about the continuation of the Philippines’ GSP+ level market access to the UK post-Brexit, DTI noted.
Moreover, UK has emphasized that the Philippines is one of its important trading partners in Asia, as evidenced by the Philippine visit of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific Natalie Black in October 2018.
“PH has taken a more proactive stance in its promotion as an investment destination for UK companies during the London Investor’s Roadshow in September 2018. These series of high-level exchanges and visits signal PH’s close engagement with UK on improving bilateral economic relations as UK exits the EU,” Lopez stated.
The UK accounts for less than 10% of total Philippine exports to the EU, with almost 11% of Philippine exports to the EU under the GSP+ going to the UK, and 35% of total Philippine exports to the UK for 2017 being made under GSP+.
“The retention of the Philippines’s GSP+ level preferential market access to the UK is a huge assurance for PH exporters. For products that are not covered by the GSP+, Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rates will apply. On this front, PH is also actively engaged in negotiations in the WTO for the final MFN bound rates that UK will apply after Brexit to ensure that products of interest for the PH will not be prejudiced by any changes,” the trade chief said.