FTA with US still in PH’s horizon

November 3, 2017 at 08:00

FTA with US still in PH’s horizon

November 02, 2017
The Philippines is still keen on pursuing a free trade agreement with the United States which it said would yield a stronger and sustainable partnership with the world’s largest economy, according to Ramon Lopez, secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Lopez said while there is no formal agenda to tackle the matter at the forthcoming visit of US officials led by President Donald Trump in connection with Asean, an FTA with the US is “still in the horizon.”
“The US has  its own agenda. . Pursuing FTA (between Asean and US) as a dialogue partner is part of an ongoing discussion. But on bilateral level, we will see if a (Philippines-US FTA) will be tackled,” Lopez added.
He said only the US-Asean FTA is on the agenda.
“We of course (would) thank them for the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences where eligible products enter the US duty-free)  improvement (of the coverage  of), products and hopefully we could (talk of a) possible FTA between the US and the  Philippines,” Lopez said.
The US recently allowed the expansion of products s under GSP to include travel goods.
“The interest remains,” he said.
The US is known to prefer  regional FTAs rather than a bilateral.
“There are two sides to that. The  initiative (can come) from either. In the end if the US says it wants a regional FTA (such as with Asean) before bilateral,  it is up to them,” Lopez said.
But this has not been expressed this to the Philippines yet.
Lopez said a bilateral FTA with the US “is no rush but  is an open interest for a much stronger and more sustainable economic partnership.”
“Right now we are enjoying the GSP preferential trade arrangement so we are okay,” he added.
President Trump will arrive in Manila on November 12 to participate in the special gala celebration for the 50th anniversary of Asean
On November 13, the President will celebrate the 40th anniversary of US-Asean relations at the US-Asean Summit and also participate in bilateral meetings with President Duterte of the Philippines and other leaders.
The President’s participation in Asean events will advance US leadership in promoting an Indo-Pacific trade and security architecture based on freedom, openness, and adherence to rule of law,” a statement from the White House said.



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