MANILA - The United States is not pushing for the traditional free trade agreements (FTAs) but rather prioritizing the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a US official said Tuesday.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, in a press briefing in Makati City, said Washington does not see the traditional FTAs as "being appropriate for the types of challenges and opportunities that we’re facing right now."
The trade ambassador explained that traditional FTAs are programmed to maximize liberalization and are always working to create incentives for economic participants.
"This is part of the incentives structure that has created the kind of vulnerabilities that we see in supply chains today. So that's an important reason why we are not doing the traditional FTA because we feel like if you continue to do things the same way, then why would you expect to have different outcomes?" Tai said.
"The different outcomes that we are looking for are to have supply chains that are more resilient, that are not programmed just for efficiency but also resilience to have supply chains and trade patterns that are more sustainable and outcomes that are more inclusive," she added.
The IPEF was launched in May 2022 when US President Joe Biden visited Japan. The program has four pillars including trade, supply chain resilience, infrastructure and clean energy, and tax and anti-corruption.
"We’re not just trying to liberalize because that’s led to very fragile supply chains. We’re trying to figure out what are the trade tools that we can use to serve the larger purpose of promoting resilience, sustainability, and inclusiveness," the US trade chief said.
Tai earlier met with Labor Secretary Bienvenido "Benny" Laguesma where the two top officials discussed ways to further strengthen the economic partnership between the two countries.
In a statement, she thanked Laguesma for the Philippines' support to the IPEF initiative, "including high-standard labor provisions that support workers across the region."
She noted the importance of protecting workers and organizers against violence and the importance of freedom of association and exercising the right to collectively bargain."