Philippine Daily Inquirer | 30 July 2005
Philippines readies for free trade agreement talks with US
THE Department of Trade and Industry on Saturday said it will begin a study in preparation for negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States.
DTI Secretary Peter Favila commissioned a state-supported think-tank, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, to conduct the study on the impact and prospects of such an agreement on the general economy as well as specific industries, the department said in a statement.
"We will identify the necessary structural adjustments to ensure our industries remain competitive" under such a free trade system, Favila was quoted as saying.
"When these have been established, then the Philippines will pursue formal negotiations with the United States," he added.
The study is expected to be completed in September and the results would be validated through regional public consultations starting in October.
"The participation of private sector, as key stakeholders in this initiative, is crucial to the process of gearing up for possible free-trade negotiations," the statement said.
The United States is Philippines’ second top trading partner behind Japan.
The Philippines and Japan are already in negotiations for a free trade agreement.
On Wednesday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she instructed the trade secretary "to begin negotiations for a trade agreement with America," without giving a timetable.