British chamber calls developing-countries scheme PHL’s likeliest path to free trade with UK

THE British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) said the UK’s new Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) will likely be the preferred channel for free trade between the UK and the Philippines in the absence of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

“I don’t see an FTA in the near term,” BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson said in a television interview on Monday. “But, I do think that the DCTS is going to be a boost and the trade between the Philippines and the UK, as it has done, will continue to grow. That (DCTS) is actually a simplified version of the UK’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP),” he added.

“When we exited Europe, we rolled over a number of those arrangements and encouraged and allowed goods and services to flow,” Mr. Nelson said. “(The DCTS) is a boost and we warmly welcome it.”

The British Embassy in Manila has said in a statement that the DCTS is designed to replace the UK’s GSP. The DCTS will come into force in early 2023 and will benefit 65 developing countries, including the Philippines.

The DCTS, launched on Aug. 16, will allow the Philippines to continue enjoying duty-free exports to the UK on over 80% of eligible products.

The new trading framework also allows the Philippines to be eligible for duty-free access for over 99% of all exports to the UK, saving around £21 million in tariffs annually.

“The scheme includes zero tariffs on almost £4.5 billion worth of imports of clothing and apparel, £300 million worth of foodstuffs and millions of pounds worth of other consumer products such as bicycles and children’s toys,” the British Embassy said.

The DCTS will also remove tariffs on over 150 additional products, and will simplify some seasonal tariffs.

“The DCTS also offers generous rules of origin, making it easier to produce goods using components from other countries without losing duty-free status. It will be one of the most generous sets of trading preferences of any country in the world, helping to grow trade, boost jobs and drive economic growth,” the British Embassy said.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual has said that the Philippines is hoping to forge more FTAs to boost foreign investment.

The British Embassy estimates that goods and services trade between the UK and the Philippines at £2 billion a year. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave