US holds talks with Philippines, Brunei to improve market access

AFP | Thursday May 10, 2007

US holds talks with Philippines, Brunei to improve market access

The United States held separate talks with the Philippines and Brunei this week on steps to enhance market access for a range of products, officials said.

The talks were held under so-called bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA) between the United States and the two Southeast Asian nations, according to the office of the US Trade Representative.

The talks with the Philippines, held in Washington Wednesday, involved steps to increase market access for a wide range of products that included agricultural, industrial and high technology goods, a statement from the office said.

They also reviewed tariff and customs policies in a bid to ease trade between the two treaty allies, it said.

In addition, they reviewed actions by the Philippine government over the past year to strengthen intellectual property protection and enforcement and discussed additional steps that the Philippines could take to further enhance its intellectual property regime, the USTR statement said.

Officials to the talks were led by Assistant US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel and Undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Thomas Aquino.

The Philippines is the 28th largest trading partner of the United States with 17.3 billion dollars in total two-way goods trade in 2006.

US exports to the Philippines totaled 7.6 billion dollars last year, up 10.5 percent from the previous year while US imports from the Philippines rose 4.8 percent to 9.7 billion dollars in the same period, the USTR office said.

US foreign direct investment in the Philippines rose 10.7 percent in 2005 from the previous year to 6.6 billion dollars, it said.

USTR officials also met their Brunei counterparts in the oil-rich sultanate’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan on Monday under their TIFA pact, the statement said.

They "agreed to examine jointly means for deepening trade relations between the two countries and how the United States could support Bruneis efforts to diversify its economy," it said.

Brunei’s heavy dependence on revenues from its oil and gas fields may come to an end when, according to the predictions of experts, the states reserves run out in around 20 years.

US-Brunei two-way goods trade totaled around 600 million dollars in 2006.

The Philippines and Brunei are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which collectively is the fourth largest market for US exports.

source: The Raw Story