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PHL unlikely to push for TPP membership — Trade Department

The Philippines is unlikely to push for membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) given the global review of the planned free trade agreement, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Sunday.

"RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] is the only game in town given the current negotiations of the TPP," Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo told reporters in Pasay City.

Rodolfo also serves as the Philippine Lead for the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting and Related Meetings (AEM) in Manila.

Envisioned to account for 40 percent of the global economy, the TPP was signed by 12 member countries in February: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

Initiated by the US, the TPP is a free-trade agreement that is supposed to expand economic ties and slash tariff barriers among its members.

It will see ratification if at least six countries whose gross domestic product comprise at least 85 percent of the total GDP of the 12 members approve to implement the final text of the deal within the next two years.

The Philippines was interested in joining the trade agreement and did some consultations under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

US President-elect Donald Trump, however, made it one of his campaign promises to pull out of the TPP and impose steeper tariffs on goods from China and Mexico.

On the other hand, the RCEP is a free trade agreement among ASEAN member nations—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It also includes several other trading partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.

In May, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez urged the ASEAN to expedite and complete RCEP negotiations by the end of the year, as the Philippines wants to conclude talks during its hosting of the ASEAN Summit this year. 

Source: GMA News Online

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