By Allen Estabillo
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, (PNA) — The country’s canned tuna exports to the European Union (EU) are seen to increase by about 64 percent by next year once it gains duty-free access to the 28-nation trade bloc under the enhanced Generalized Scheme of Preferences or GSP Plus program.
Francisco Buencamino, executive director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines (TCAP), said the projected increase in canned tuna’s export volume to the EU is equivalent to around 2 million cases based on last year’s total shipments of 3.202 million cases.
In 2012, he said the country generated around US$ 123.3 million in total receipts from the canned tuna exports to the EU markets despite being slapped with a 24 percent tariff.
The EU is presently the country’s biggest export market for canned tuna, which is mainly produced by six canneries based in this city.
“Once we get into the GSP Plus program, our export prices (for canned tuna) will become more competitive, mainly because of the removal of the 24 percent duty. So it is imperative that we get into the GSP Plus by all means,” he said at the 15th National Tuna Congress here.
The national government, through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is presently finalizing its application to the EU’s GSP Plus Program, an incentive scheme that grants the full removal of tariffs for a range of export products, including tuna.
A program briefer said EU-GSP Plus is an enhanced preferences scheme that took off from the standard GSP, which offers to developing countries a partial or entire removal of tariffs on two thirds of qualified product categories that are exported to the EU.
Under the EU-GSP Plus program, product categories covered by the standard GSP are granted the “full removal of tariffs.”
These are granted to countries which ratify and implement international conventions relating to human and labor rights, environment and good governance.
Under the standard GSP, Buencamino said a duty of 20.5 percent is levied on all local canned tuna exports to the EU.
“EU importers, therefore, discount their buying prices from the Philippines by this cost of duty to make our canned tuna competitive in the EU market with all other imports from other tuna sources,” he said.
Citing TCAP’s estimates, he said the country’s canned tuna export receipts would improve “at the very least” by 24 percent once it is included in the GSP Plus scheme.
By then, he said exporters “will not need to adjust prices, as we have been compelled to do to remain globally competitive, to accommodate the burdensome duty imposed on EU imports of canned tuna from the Philippines.”
With the improved competitive stance under the GSP Plus program, Buencamino said they expect tuna factory employment to increase by an industry average of 70 percent while manning in fishing fleets will likely increase by around 50 percent.
He added that such scenario was seen to trigger a projected increase in the volume of raw material catch by an average of 64 percent.