Cristobal: PH certain to join TPP

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The Philippines is definitely joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said during a press conference on Thursday.

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Being a part of the TPP is a significant component of our international trade strategy which has been in place over the past four years, the newly appointed Cabinet official said.
“Some estimated it may take another two years for the TPP to take effect, because there are provisions that lay down some conditions before it could take effect,” he said.

The country previously conducted technical consultations with Malaysia, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Canada and will continue to initiate the same with Japan, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam this year.

The trade and industry chief said there will be more studies to be commissioned with other groups and associations. “We will have other consultations with other players to make a decision.”

Before the Philippines enter formal discussions for membership, the country will carefully review the final and full text of the agreement, evaluate its impact on the economy and consult thoroughly with various stakeholders.

“The decision will also be made with the participation of Congress. It would be very open accordance to our sovereign policies,” Cristobal said.

He affirmed that the “Philippines has indicated very clearly that we would like to join the TPP and would want to start discussions for our entry once it opens its doors to new members. Even before the TPP was concluded, the Philippine government had already undertaken technical consultations with six out of the 12 TPP countries, and the talks will continue.”

The Philippines will need the endorsement from the 12 parties of the trade agreement.
“With the final text of the agreement made available, we can have a more definite evaluation of the impact of being a TPP member.”

The Philippines continues to aggressively pursue alternative tracks to obtain market access for its products.

“This is consistent with our international trade strategy of forging free trade agreements and obtaining market access for our products and services. For our European strategy, the Philippines obtained access to the European market through the EU Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) in December 2014. We have also commenced formal talks for a PH-EU FTA, while negotiations are ongoing with the European Free Trade Area (EFTA),” Cristobal noted.

Even if the country is not yet a TPP member, Philippine products already enjoy favorable market access to the US. About 70 percent of Philippine exports enter the US market duty free under the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status or through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

“Joining the TPP will provide more opportunities to further strengthen our foothold in the global market with our local enterprises, workers and consumers benefitting from bigger markets and increased foreign investments,” Cristobal said.

The TPP agreement eliminates or reduces tariffs, lowers the cost of trade, and sets new and high standards for global trade while addressing next-generation issues.

The 12 TPP members – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam – announced the conclusion of their negotiations last year. These 12 countries have a combined population of 800 million and are projected to account for 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 30 percent of global trade.

South Korea, Taiwan, Colombia and Indonesia are also in joining the TPP.

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