DTI studies possible FTA with US
The Department of Trade and Industry ( DTI) is studying the possibility of forging a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, identifying four major issues that need to be ironed out to come up with a mutually acceptable deal, a top official said.
Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo told reporters on Friday that both sides met early last week to discuss the direction of their trade policies, which would hopefully lead to a free trade deal that would further open the US market to the Philippines.
Rodolfo said the internal study would pick up from the gap analysis done back when the Philippines was still interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the US-led mega trade deal linking 11 other countries that together account for roughly 40 percent of the world economy.
However, with the Trump administration abandoning the regional trade route to focus instead on bilateral arrangements, the DTI is now weighing the benefits of having an FTA with the United States.
“We had technical consultations then, and we had a gap analysis where we found out the challenging areas,” he said.
These are intellectual property in the public health sector, foreign equity restrictions, the balance of European Union and US interests with regards to geographical indication, and government procurement.
He said the government was working on each of these major issues, but noted that the country was not yet “compliant” with what the US may find agreeable.
All this comes amid plans by the US government to penalize countries it has huge trade deficits with, an opportunity that the Philippines would like to take advantage of.
He said an FTA was one of two ways to widen access to the giant US market, with the other being the enhancement of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences.
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