The meeting, chaired by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Barbara Weisel and Philippine Undersecretary of Trade Ceferino Rodolfo, included Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and other senior Philippine and U.S. officials from the trade, agriculture, customs and intellectual property agencies.
The two countries engaged on key bilateral issues, including investment, customs, intellectual property rights and agricultural trade issues, and made plans to continue their dialogue on these issues. These discussions built on earlier talks, including in the new TIFA Labor Committee, which held its first meeting earlier this month.
The two teams also discussed the Philippines’ interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was signed last month among the U.S. and 11 other nations. Congress and the other signatory countries must ratify the free trade agreement, meant reduce or eliminate import tariffs and other trade barriers, before it can go into effect. The pact is also aimed at counterbalancing China’s prowess in industries such as apparel and textiles. The U.S. briefed Philippine officials in detail on key TPP chapters of interest and reviewed plans for further technical consultations on TPP outcomes.
USTR said officials also exchanged views on how to intensify cooperation on World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Association of Southeast Asian Nations issues, including the WTO Information Technology Agreement Expansion and pending WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, as well as a Philippine proposal in APEC on ways to continue to support micro-, small- and medium-size enterprises participation in international trade. They agreed to work closely together to advance the trade and investment agenda for ASEAN, which the Philippines will host in 2017, including on the new U.S.-ASEAN Trade Workshops agreed upon by ministers at the U.S.-ASEAN TIFA meeting held in San Francisco last month.
The U.S. and the Philippines have had a close economic relationship for more than a century. Total goods trade between the U.S. and the Philippines reached more than $18 billion last year, a 41 percent increase since 2009. Services trade exceeded $6.8 billion in 2014, up 60 percent from 2009.