Lawmaker urges Philippine govt. to take EU’s threat on trade perks seriously

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With 200,000 jobs on the line, it would be “unforgivable” if the government would just let the European Union (EU) revoke the Philippines’ trade perks, said the country’s senate minority leader Franklin Drilon who “strongly” advised the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to take the European Parliament’s warning “seriously.”

Europe’s parliamentarians on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution to withdraw the trade benefits if the Philippine government did not abide by international conventions on human rights.

The EU has granted the Philippines trade benefits under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) but could withdraw it due to “seriousness of the human rights violations” in the country.

“I would strongly advise the administration that instead of setting this aside and saying that these are all empty threats, I would strongly suggest we take a closer look because…we will have problems, no questions about it. We should take this seriously rather than have that bravado of saying ‘go ahead,’” Drilon said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.

“I hate to see the day when they ‘go ahead’ and carry out their threat. That’s 200,000 jobs on the line. We already have a very high unemployment [rate], over 10 million of our people lost their jobs because of the pandemic, you add another incident which can be prevented, that’s unforgivable,” he added.

Responding to the European Parliament’s resolution, the presidential palace last week dared its lawmakers to “go ahead” with their push to revoke the Philippines’ tariff perks for Filipino products under the GSP+ program.

The GSP+ program gives the Philippines the privilege of exporting zero-duty merchandise to the member states of the European Union.

“A removal of our GSP+ privileges will result in higher tariffs on our products, 6,000 items. We should look at this carefully because the labour unions are saying that 200,000 jobs will be affected,” Drilon stressed. (Source: INQUIRER.net)

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