MANILA - A proposed free trade agreement between the Philippines and the United States has the potential to create millions of jobs in the manufacturing sector, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Thursday.
US President Donald Trump welcomed the proposal during his recent visit to the Philippines for meetings with Asia-Pacific leaders, Lopez told ANC's Headstart.
The wearable manufacturing industry in the Philippines currently employs 300,000 workers, 15 times smaller than neighboring Vietnam, with whom the United States has a bilateral trade agreement, said Lopez.
"If we will have the same privilege as Vietnam, imagine multiplying 300,000 by 15, over 4 million new jobs in the Philippines, and now we’ll be able to export to the US duty free many products," he told ANC's Headstart.
Mere discussions for a free trade pact alone would invite foreign investors to locate in the Philippines for a chance to export to the US without tariffs, he said.
"More investments, more jobs in the countryside, outside Metro Manila. The beauty of starting discussing FTA, it really attracts a lot of investments," he said.
Philippine travel goods were included in the expanded US General System of Preferences (GSP) scheme, which allows for the duty-free entry of these products into the US market, but Lopez said this only accounts for about over 40 percent of the total tariff lines of the US.