Philippines eyes joining Pacific trade pact

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2014 03:28 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2014 11:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is looking to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership being pushed by the United States.

Communication Secretary Sonny Coloma said there are three major areas to be covered in the dialogue between President Benigno Aquino and US President Barack Obama.

"First is political and security cooperation; the second is expanding trade and investment, tourism and development cooperation; and the third is deepening people-to-people ties," he said.

The TPP agreement is key to Obama's policy of expanding US presence in Asia.

The pact is envisioned to connect a dozen Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonizing regulations. The countries discussing the TPP include United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

However, Coloma pointed out the Philippines is not among the first 12 countries that are involved in TPP talks. “So what we are doing now is to explore possibilities, if our direct participation in this partnership can be made feasible, and that will be part of the discussions," he said.