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PH hopes for trilateral trade agreement with US, Japan

GMA | 11 April 2024

PH hopes for trilateral trade agreement with US, Japan


WASHINGTON D.C. — The Philippines is hoping to have a trade agreement with Japan and the United States, as leaders of the three countries are set to hold a trilateral summit here Thursday.

According to Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, the three countries are looking to deepen their economic partnership, with trade ministers set to meet moving forward.

“Well we’re hoping that that might happen,” he said, when asked about the possibility of a trilateral trade agreement among the three countries, adding that Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual is set to meet with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

“This is the first time that we’re going to have the three countries — Japan, the Philippines, and the United States — going together into enhancing our economic cooperation,” he added.

Leaders of the three countries are set to meet on Thursday, April 11, for the first trilateral leaders summit, which seeks to boost their cooperation across various areas of multilateral interest.

Romualdez said the Philippines is now “seriously” looking at free trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States and Japan, with the three countries part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), led by Washington.

US Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai said in April that a bilateral FTA with the Philippines was not on the negotiating table as the administration was more focused on the IPEF initiative.

“There will be an economic framework, the IPEF meeting in Manila this coming May. This is probably where we are going to be given a more clear picture on where this IPEF is going,” Romualdez said Wednesday.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that the United States was the biggest recipient of Philippine exports as of January 2024, with $902.33 million or 15.2% of total exports, followed by Japan with $869.25 million.

In terms of imports, Japan was the second-largest supplier of shipments into the Philippines during the month, with $789.36 million, behind China at the top spot with $2.65 billion. The United States came in fifth with $671.86 million.

“On specific areas, probably in the cyberspace for instance, or the digital technology and of course, there are many other areas I think we can work with the United States in having this,” Romualdez said.

“As I said, the United States has really committed itself to really helping, well I wouldn’t wanna put it helping, but looking at the Philippines as really a major investment hub for many American companies,” he added.

In the same briefing, White House National Security adviser John Kirby said leaders of the three countries are set to strengthen partnerships in terms of economics, politics, and security.

“Our three countries embark on this new era of trilateral cooperation as trusted, equal partners, guided by shared values and an unwavering commitment to a free, open, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“With President Marcos’s visit, the trilateral summit and of course the visit today of Prime Minister Kishida this week will clearly illustrate President Biden’s continued commitment to strengthening our key alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, innovating around shares challenges, and exploring new areas of cooperation,” he added.

Romualdez in the same briefing said the Philippines is set to bring in some $100-billion worth of investments from the US and Japan in the next five years, mainly in the energy and semiconductor industries.

 source: GMA