MANILA- The government’s decision to reject 250-million euros or P13.89 billion in grants from the European Union should not be tied up with trade incentives from the bloc, the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) said.
“I think we shouldn’t link aid packages with trade issues because those are entirely different things,” ECCP President Guenter Taus said Friday.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Thursday said Manila wanted to keep its trade arrangements with the EU despite the administration's refusal of conditional aid from the bloc, wary of intervention in internal affairs.
Taus added that the aid rejection should also not affect the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+), where the Philippines can export to EU member states without duties or at reduced tariffs.
“I don’t think that this should tie up the aid package with the GSP+ because nobody talks about revoking the GSP+ at this time,” he said.
Despite the Philippines' decision to decline tied EU grants, Taus said business would continue both locally and with Europe.
“It does not do any harm to receive an aid package that benefits the people by and large, but again it’s a decision that the government has to make and we can only try to make the best out of it and continue working with the local businesses as well as European business and cushion impact,” he said.
The EU Delegation in Manila said the rejected aid would cover new projects supposed to be implemented starting this year up to 2020. The EU has provided a total of 2.3 billion euros in aid to the Philippines since 1992.