More Filipino exports need to avail of the Philippines’ duty-free benefits under the United States Generalized System of Preferences (US GSP), according to a Filipino trade representative stationed in the US.
Nicanor Bautista of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC)-New York said Philippine GSP exports to the US reached US$1.6 billion in 2019.
However, $654 million worth of the Philippines’ total exports to the US last year were duty-free “but did not avail of duty-free benefits,” said Bautista in an online talk.
“I would really encourage our exporters [to] talk to your importers, tell them [your] products are GSP because if they are, then your importer may be able to purchase more or you can export more of your products because they are duty-free.”
He said this is just a matter of “informing your importer that this product is duty free and that he should apply for that” benefit and of “filling out forms.”
GSP allows the Philippines to export a total of 5,057 products, or nearly half of the 10,600 total US tariff lines, to the US at zero or reduced tariffs.
Moreover, Bautista added that now is also an opportune time for the Philippines to maximize the utilization of its US GSP beneficiary status following the suspension by the US government of Thailand’s GSP benefits.
“This is another opportunity for us [as] we export a lot of similar products to Thailand so we should look into this,” he said.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on October 30, 2020 announced the suspension of $817 million in trade preferences for Thailand under the GSP program.
The USTR said the decision to suspend is based on Thailand’s “lack of sufficient progress providing the United States with equitable and reasonable market access for pork products.”
The decision is effective on December 30, 2020, USTR said.
However, the new GSP suspension will result in Thai products being taxed at a normal rate, not that they will be banned from entering the US.
The largest and oldest US trade preference program, GSP aims to promote economic development by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from one of 119 designated beneficiary countries and territories, which include the Philippines.
To remain eligible for these advantages, beneficiary countries must comply with 15 criteria, including taking steps to recognize worker rights, providing protection of intellectual property rights, and assuring equitable and reasonable access to their markets.
Philippine goods exports to the US totaled $12.8 billion in 2019, up 1.5% from 2018, said the USTR. GSP exports accounted for about 18% of the total.
Top exports to the US under GSP include coconut oil, coconuts, pineapples, fruit juice and frozen tuna fillets, said Bautista.
He gave the online talk during the Philippine Exporters Confederation’s (PHILEXPORT) fourth quarter general membership meeting last November 17.
The Philippine Trade and Investment Center-New York is the representative office of the Department of Trade and Industry in the city.