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DTI cites benefits in joining TPP

“There is interest again as we review the benefits of joining TPP that will open more export markets for the Philippines,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told The STAR. File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines finds the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) too hard to resist even without the US, citing it as the reason for the country’s recent revival of interest in joining the mega-trade deal.

The country has had a change of hearts recently about joining the deal after deciding to shelve such plan earlier.

“There is interest again as we review the benefits of joining TPP that will open more export markets for the Philippines,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told The STAR.

“It will level the playing field with other countries which are part of it since they would have easier access – lower or zero tariffs – when it enters in the markets of other participating economies,” he added.

Lopez said the Philippines would be at a disadvantage if the country would not be part of it.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) two weeks ago conveyed the country’s intention to join the TPP to Japan, one of the stronger economies part of the now 11-country pact.

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The Philippines had earlier shelved its planned membership to the TPP after US President Donald Trump announced the US is backing out of the deal.

Lopez last January said “there is less reason for us to consider it” given that some countries in the TPP have not even supported it, referring to the US in particular.

President Duterte has also been vocal about his disdain for the TPP, saying earlier that he too would reject the trade agreement.

Lopez said DTI would talk to the President and discuss the potential benefits of joining the TPP, as well as what the country would be missing if it does not join.

The TPP is seen pushing through even with its former leader, the US, opting out.

The deal is now composed of 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

Joining the TPP is seen providing more opportunities for the Philippines that will further strengthen its foothold in the global market with the country’s enterprises, workers, and consumers benefiting from bigger markets and increased foreign investments.

Duterte, however, earlier said the deal would be disadvantageous especially to people taking medicines daily as it would prevent the Philippines from buying cheap medicines from countries like India and Pakistan.

But while the possible inclusion to the TPP may still be considered a bit of a long shot, the Philippines currently has its sights fixed on concluding what is now dubbed as an “ASEAN-led” Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

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