THE Philippines is not closing its doors on joining the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, but it will wait for the agreement to be finalized first and for the text to become publicly available to be able to make an informed judgment on whether it should join the trade pact or not, a senior trade official said.
The United States wants the Philippines to be part of the TPP but membership in the trade pact involves taking obligations to implement market liberalizing measures, which will require a resolute commitment of the Philippine government and the business community if such measures are to be met.
“We are closely monitoring the developments in the United States Congress on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that is a critical element towards the resolution of contentious issues that are being negotiated in the TPP,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo told reporters.
Rodolfo added that even as the TPP is now closed to new members, the Philippines “would like to be in a position to make a decision as soon as the agreement is finalized and the text is made publicly available. In this context, the Philippines is doing technical consultations.”
“We are diligently undertaking technical consultations as part of the preparation process so that we can count on informed judgment on the overall cost and benefits to the Philippines,” he said.
“We have been undertaking consultations with key sectors, including civil society, for instance in terms of their apprehensions on the TPP with respect to intellectual property and public health,” Rodolfo said.
“We are aware of the position of the civil society groups and we are considering carefully what they are saying as we undertake the analysis of the overall impact on the Philippines,” he added
“The caveat here is that the text is not yet available, the agreement is not yet concluded, and the text is not publicly available so we really have to wait kung ano yung lalabas [what will be the outcome]. Yung technical consultations, sinasabi lang sa’yo. Binabasa lang nila sa’min kung ano na yung nangyayari. Pero kung ano yung lalabas, hindi pa natin alam [They just relay it to us. They read to us what has transpired. But as for the final outcome, we do not know yet],” he explained.