Charter nips Pacific partnership goal

Published by rudy Date posted on April 6, 2011

THE US has advised the Philippines to address constitutional and legal restrictions, among other issues, in order to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said.

Domingo told reporters that the US government had related that the Philippines has much work to do to be invited to take part in ongoing TPP negotiations.

Representatives of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the US Embassy in Manila paid a visit to Department of Trade and Industry officials on Tuesday.

Domingo said that the US cited restrictions to trade and investment facilitation embedded in the Philippine Constitution and other laws.

In its 2011 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, the USTR noted that the Philippine Constitution limits foreign investment in the advertising industry and in public utilities, as well as prohibits foreigners from owning land and practicing various professions.

Also, the USTR cited that Philippine laws and the “Foreign Investment Negative List” restrict foreign participation in banks and financial institutions, domestic express delivery services, mass media, procurement, retail trade, small and medium enterprises and telecommunications.

“Since the TPP has high standards, we must present our case to live through those ambitions,” Domingo said.

He added that it is “premature” to say that the US would back up the Philippines’ bid to join the TPP, but “they [the US] want to help us.”

Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said that support for the Philippines’ bid to be part of the trade agreement would be sought from all TPP partners by engaging them in bilateral meetings within the first half of the year.

Besides the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are part of TPP negotiations.

Consultations with local stakeholders would also be held “to make sure everybody is onboard,” Cristobal said.

The sixth round of TPP negotiations was conducted in Singapore last week, during which the participants “made substantial headway toward a key goal of developing the legal texts of the agreement, which include commitments covering all aspects of their trade and investment relationship,” the USTR said in its website.  –Ben Arnold O. De Vera, Reporter, Manila Times

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