THE Philippines is seeking to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) organized by the US, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

In a statement on Tuesday, the DTI said Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez led a Philippine trade delegation to Washington, DC in bilateral talks with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Mr. Lopez expressed the Philippines’ interest in joining the initiative during the meeting.

The DTI described the IPEF as a “vehicle” for improved US economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, focused on trade facilitation setting, standards for the digital economy and technology, making the supply chain more resilient, pursuing initiatives in decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure, and labor standards.  

According to the DTI, the Philippines is interested in elements of the IPEF that have to do with micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) promotion and development, the digital economy, supply chain resiliency, the environment, sustainability, and infrastructure investment.

Ms. Tai said during the meeting that the Philippines is welcome to join IPEF.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lopez also said the Philippines is interested in participating in the Alaskan seafood trade.

“The Philippines would be a good choice for processing… seafood from Alaska for re-export. The Philippines has extensive experience and a competitive edge in terms of processing and toll packing, as exemplified by our engagement with the European Union (EU). This may assist in boosting agricultural trade between the US and the Philippines,” Mr. Lopez said.  

The DTI said the two countries are further discussing Philippine plans to export pineapples to the US, with Mr. Lopez also noting the increased activity in the Philippines of US data center developers that cater to hyperscalers.  

“These also lead to more renewable energy capacity since renewable energy is the required source of energy for these facilities. These efforts are underway and will support building stronger trade and investment ties with the US,” Mr. Lopez said.

In 2021, the US was the Philippines’ third largest trading partner, top export market, and fifth largest import supplier, according to the DTI. Bilateral trade with the US was $19.6 billion, with the Philippines enjoying a modest trade surplus. The US was also the Philippines’ fifth largest investor that year with approved investments worth $77.64 million. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave