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Philippines Aiming For Zero Duty On Tuna Export To EU By 2014

The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is seeking approval to export more goods from the country into the European Union and hopes to see  the 24 percent import duty, which the Philippines’ tuna products are currently subjected to within the EU market,  cancelled. The aim will be to have a zero tariff by 2014.

The Philippines hopes to add tuna under the EU-GSP program so its tuna industry can compete with other tuna processing nations already enjoying this benefit.

This negotiation process between both the Philippines and the EU will require the Philippines to meet an extensive list of specific standards in order for the GSP program to grant more duty free imports into the EU and for the Philippines to secure this trade advantage.

DTI Undersecretary for Industry and Policy Group, Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said: “We have steep competition with other countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Bangladesh which are enjoying EU-GSP privilege.”  Although neither of these countries to date have a zero tariff on canned tuna.

Granting the trade benefit will have a major impact on the Pacific tuna industry and the Philippines will have more possibilities to compete with other leading tuna exporters that ship to the EU.

Last month, the Spanish National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish and Seafood (Anfaco) tried to persuade the EU to end negotiations with Thailand to add the country’s canned tuna to a free trade agreement. Anfaco believes that providing a duty free tariff to Asian tuna processing nations, like Thailand and Philippines, will seriously jeopardize the future of the communitarian tuna industry.  

The DTI will also push for tuna to be included in the new GSP Plus incentive scheme for vulnerable countries who meet clear, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria related to sustainable development and good governance, which will allow for duty-free access for over 7000 products.

The application will be submitted in three months, and if accepted, the EU will import tuna from the Philippines with zero tax, increasing its appeal.  The EU-GSP Plus is expected going to take effect in 2014.

Cristobal added: “The various sectors are still doing their projections on the impact of the GSP Plus, but definitely it should be beneficial for the exporters.”