Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (308)

Noel Grealish


308. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if Ireland or the EU has a free trade agreement with the Philippines; if no trade agreement exists, the applicable duty for exports from the EU to the Philippines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

International Trade Policy is a competence of the EU Commission under the EU Treaties and defined as the Common Commercial Policy. Under this architecture the Commission makes legislative proposals and leads on international trade negotiations and the Member States approve negotiating directives (mandates) and engage with the Commission on the substance of all trade proposals through various Committees, including the Trade Policy Committee, and at Ministerial level through the Trade Council. Equally, Member States, at Council level, approve or reject the terms of Free Trade Agreements when negotiated.

In 2007, the EU began negotiating a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which The Philippines is a member. In 2009, a mutual decision was made to pause these region-to-region negotiations. The EU began to pursue FTAs with individual ASEAN countries as building blocks towards a wider region-to-region FTA.

The EU signed an FTA with Singapore in 2018; has completed negotiations with Vietnam; and aims to conclude FTA negotiations with Indonesia by the end of 2019.

Negotiations for an EU-Philippines trade and investment agreement were launched on 22nd December 2015. To date there have been two rounds of negotiations. The first round took place in Brussels in December 2015 and the recent round of talks took place in Cebu City in the Philippines in February 2017. No date has been agreed for further negotiations.

Ireland, the EU, and the Philippines are members of the World Trade Organisation. Ireland and all other EU countries export goods to the Philippines under the tariff rates and quotas determined by the Philippines which are set out in the Philippines’ schedule of commitments under the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Services are tariff-free and are traded under the General Agreement of Trade in Services (GATS).

For tariff purposes goods are divided into several thousand individual tariff lines with varying levels of custom duties applying to these tariff lines.

The Philippines, as a developing country, benefits from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) which is a special incentive arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance. The Philippines has GSP+ status which means over 66% of EU tariff lines are suspended for exports from the Philippines to the EU.

The European Commission’s Market Access Database contains information on tariffs applying to the exports of goods from the EU to non-EU countries as well as EU tariffs on goods imported from outside the EU. The database can be consulted to identify the applicable tariff for any given product.

Information on exports can be found at http://madb.europa.eu/madb/Information on imports can be found at http://madb.europa.eu/madb/euTariffs.htm