MANILA - The Philippines and the United States should explore "bilateral free trade agreements" after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a senior adviser of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines said Tuesday.
"We try to support efforts of free trade... We'd be delighted to see some talks to explore a bilateral free trade agreement between the Philippines and the United States," John Forbes, senior adviser of AmCham Philippines, said in an interview on ANC's Early Edition.
Trump earlier withdrew the US from the TPP, a trade deal that pulls down tariffs and fosters closer economic cooperation among 12 countries, as part of the 'America First' policy he pledged to impose during his presidency.
Forbes said a bilateral trade partnership with the Philippines is still feasible as the effects of Trump's policy "have been more rhetorical than practical."
"The American chambers throughout the Asia-Pacific will continue to seek that (free trade) in the future," Forbes said noting that the group of American businessmen will converge in Washington in the coming months.
Trump earlier invited President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House "to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction," the US Office of the Press Secretary said in a statement.
The White House gave no details of when the leaders would meet in Washington, but said Trump looked forward to visiting the Philippines in November as part of two summits with other Asian nations.
Though Duterte pivoted away from Manila's traditional ally Washington to form closer ties with Moscow and Beijing, he has expressed willingness to have a dialogue with the US president.