EU has ‘seen progress’ in PH’s human rights situation, claims DTI chief
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual on Wednesday claimed that the European Commission has “seen progress” in the Philippines’ human rights situation.
In a Palace briefing, the DTI chief said he met with European Commission officials during a recent three-week European investment roadshow and discussed with them the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) special trade benefits of the Philippines from the European Union (EU).
According to the EU’s website, the GSP+ “is a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance” extended to “vulnerable developing countries” like the Philippines “that ratified 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and climate change, and good governance.”
Under the agreement, the EU cuts its import duties to zero on more than two thirds of the tariff lines of their exports for country beneficiaries that pursue sustainable developments and good governance.
The Philippines’ GSP+ special trade benefits was put at risk in the wake of reported human rights violations during the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte .
“When we talked to them, they’re checking because they’ve raised certain issues in the past, you must have read in the papers, and we’ve briefed on the latest developments about a few points that don’t cover the whole range; we just have very specific concerns that we were able to address and they were happy about it,” Pascual said during a press briefing in Malacañang.
The DTI chief said he told European Commission officials about developments “with respect to certain issues that they are interested in” and following explanations, Pascual claimed “they have seen progress. It’s not as if nothing has happened to address the issues they’re concerned with. And you are all aware of this; they’re well-published.”
The European Commission, which is the EU’s politically independent executive arm, recently moved to extend the Philippines’ GSP+ special trade benefits by four years, according to the DTI.
Pascual mentioned that the conditions and obligations tied to the GSP+ special trade benefits of the country “pertain to some values” that the EU and the Philippines believe in as shown by the international conventions on human rights, labor rights, and protection of the environment, among others, that the government has endorsed or ratified.