PEZA touts PHL return to US GSP status as supportive of recovery

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said the reauthorization of the Philippines’ participation in a US preferential trading scheme will add impetus to the economic recovery.

“We are hoping that the (President’s US) visit will reopen talks on the US Generalized System of Preference (GSP) program and the implementation of the US Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which should benefit the Philippine economy in general and put us (in line) with other allied and forward thinking economies joining the multilateral economic cooperation,” PEZA Director General Tereso O. Panga told reporters via Viber.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is currently in the US for an official visit until May 4.

The Philippines has been pushing for the renewal of its GSP eligibility, which expired in 2020. The GSP allows the duty-free entry of selected Philippine products into the US.

The top Philippine exports under the GSP included handbags, insulated electric conductors, new pneumatic rubber tires, and nonalcoholic beverages. In 2020, the Philippines posted a 74% GSP utilization rate, with exports valued at $1.56 billion.

Participants in the IPEF, launched in May 2022, include Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Aside from the GSP and IPEF, Mr. Panga said the Philippines is a possible location for US companies seeking to diversify their manufacturing locations.

“While President Biden’s policy is to reshore all manufacturing activities for American companies, we hope that the much improved bilateral relations with US will allow the Philippines to benefit from that policy, making the country an alternative location for US companies to offshore manufacturing activities,” Mr. Panga said.

“The Philippines could be a viable site for US-based companies or shifting out production from their existing locations to take advantage of the country’s growing domestic market, huge pool of world-class and quality-oriented workers, and as a production and distribution hub in the region,” he added.

According to Mr. Panga, some of the industries that US investors should consider include manufacturing, electric vehicles, renewable energy, mineral processing, regenerative agriculture, and frontier technologies like digital health, financial technology, the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and big data.

“The government is serious in attracting productivity-enhancing investments and strategic industries including infrastructure development through business-to-business engagements and public-private partnerships,” Mr. Panga said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave