Philippines, US to further trade ties

by Catherine N. Pillas, BusinessMirror

Posted at May 28 2014 10:01 AM | Updated as of May 28 2014 06:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a high-level business delegation to the Philippines in June, which, Philippines trade officials said, is a concrete sign that Washington is ready to engage Manila in further market access and trade negotiations.

Pritzker is heading a chief executive officer (CEO)-level US-Asean Business Council mission here.

“The recent visit of President Obama resulted into a follow-up visit next week by the Department of Commerce secretary, to be accompanied by a high-level business delegation composed of 12 businessmen. I will meet with her and the US-Asean Business Council, all with a view to improve trade relations,” Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said in a news conference on Tuesday.

The US secretary of Commerce will also meet with President Aquino during her visit, as well as several Cabinet officials, Domingo said.

Trade Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Adrian S. Cristobal said the meeting with Pritzker, as well as the recent visit by President Obama to the Philippines, signals the readiness of the two countries to “engage further in market-access and trade negotiations.”

Domingo said steps have been taken in the past months to further strengthen the US-Philippines trade and economic ties. For instance, Cristobal met with his counterpart in the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) Office to discuss significant areas such as possible participation in the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), as well as trade preference for Supertyphoon Yolanda affected areas.

Trade Undersecretary for Export Trade Promotion Ponciano C. Manalo Jr. said the 12-member delegation is composed of companies involved in the services, energy, consumer goods, communications, electronics and mining sectors.

On the part of the Philippines, Manalo said they will promote priority sectors, such as manufacturing, information technology-business process management (IT-BPM), particularly in health-information services and other higher-value services and creative industries. The country will also promote its products for export to the US.

Manalo also said with the improved ties between the Philippines and the US, the DTI anticipates not just new investment leads from the health-care industry and IT-BPM, but also business opportunities in the country’s priority sectors for promotion to the US.

In 2013, the US was the Philippines’s third major trading partner, second-biggest export market, and the top 2 imports supplier. In the same year, approved investments from the US stood at $1.3 billion.

Read more on BusinessMirror.