Cuisia: Country risks losing out to neighbors sans TPP mantle
Former Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. is hoping the present administration will still make a bid to be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement to enable local industries tap opportunities in a bigger market.
Cuisia said Friday it was critical for the Philippines to be included in the TPP since it was already losing out to neighboring countries Vietnam and Malaysia in the garments and apparel industries. Both Vietnam and Malaysia are members of the TPP, which aims to foster trade growth among countries by removing tariffs on several goods and services.
“I’m hopeful that Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, who is already quite familiar with this, will pursue TPP, assuming it will be approved by the US Congress. We should be ready for that and we should prepare ourselves so we can be part of the second batch. Other countries have already expressed interest to join, such as South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. My position is if we’re not going to be part of TPP, we will fall behind our neighbors like Vietnam and Malaysia. Our markets will go to them especially for apparel, garments, and shoes,” Cuisia said.
Cuisia expressed hope the constitution would be amended to allow a level playing field for foreigners especially in under-developed industries.
“Unless this is amended to allow higher foreign ownership in sectors which are now limited, we may not qualify because one of the principles of the TPP is to have a level playing field. And if you have preferential treatments for nationals, then you may not qualify,” he added.
Cuisia also said the Philippine embassy in the US was hoping to get around $300 million to $400 million worth of poverty reduction support under a second “compact” or agreement with American aid agency Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC).
The MCC announced last year its board of directors unanimously re-selected the Philippines for a second compact in recognition of the country’s continuing efforts to improve its governance scorecards. The latter measured a country’s commitment to ruling justly, ensuring economic freedom, and investing in its people.
Approved in 2010, the first compact provided the Philippines with a $436.3-million grant that expired on May 2016.