Business World (Manila) | February 13, 2011
Philippines’ TPP plea backed by precedent?
AN AUSTRALIAN envoy has hinted at favorable reception for the Philippines’ request that any invitation to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal come with easier terms.
Australian Ambassador Rod Smith cited the deal which established the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Australia-New Zealand free trade area (AANZFTA) last year, noting that poorer countries were given more time to eliminate tariffs.
The TPP is an "ambitious" deal, Mr. Smith told reporters in a chance interview on Thursday.
"Take the AANZFTA for example. Australia dropped [roughly 90%] of its tariffs immediately [while the others will take longer to do the same]," he said when asked whether Canberra was amenable to granting TPP flexibilities to the Philippines.
The trade pact requires not only tariff cuts but also commitments in service liberalization and standards for the protection of labor, environment and intellectual property.
Manila is eyeing entry into the trade agreement given a longstanding desire to forge a bilateral pact with the US, a major trading partner which has said it would rather forge regional deals.
The Trade department has said the Philippines would need flexibilities in meeting the TPP’s aims if it is invited to join negotiations.
Aside from the US, the countries currently negotiating the TPP are Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam. Another round of TPP negotiations is scheduled this month in Chile. — Jessica Anne D. Hermosa