THE PHILIPPINES views the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) as a means of deepening its integration with global supply chains, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

“We are mainly interested in the areas of supply chain integration and strengthening crisis response,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said during a meeting with the US-Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Coalition.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the APEC 2023 Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting in Detroit between May 25 and 26.

“Our participation in IPEF is significant as it is a mechanism that will offer tangible benefits which will further boost our economic recovery efforts such as more opportunities to cooperate on trade and investment,” he added.

Launched by US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. in May last year, IPEF seeks to boost the US’ economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. Other IPEF participants include Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Mr. Pascual said the Philippines also stands to benefit from the reauthorization of the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which he said will help attract more investment.

He called for the “immediate reauthorization” of the US GSP, which will “spur more investment, generate jobs, and promote skills development.”

The GSP scheme, which expired in 2020, allows the duty-free entry of Philippine products into the US.

The top Philippine exports under the GSP scheme include handbags, insulated electric conductors, new pneumatic rubber tires, and nonalcoholic beverages.

According to the DTI, the US was the Philippines’ top export market and fifth-largest source of imports in 2022. Exports expanded 5% in 2022 while imports grew 15%. 

In a separate statement, the DTI said that the Philippines and New Zealand will push for stronger cooperation on trade, renewable energy, agricultural development, workforce development, and upskilling following a meeting between Mr. Pascual and New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor during the APEC MRT meeting.

Mr. O’Connor also urged the Philippines to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal involving Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam. The trade deal was signed in March 2018.

Mr. Pascual said that the Philippines is also working on the ratification of the World Trade Organization’s Fisheries Subsidies Agreement.

“The new rules will make a major contribution for ocean sustainability by prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies. This will help prevent in the depletion of fish stocks, and in the process benefit our small-scale fishers,” Mr. Pascual said.

The fisheries subsidies deal, sealed in June, banned subsidies that support illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Mr. Pascual added that the Philippines is expected to implement the Greening the Manufacturing Industry Roadmap soon, which would contain measures that would support investment in renewable energy.

“We envision to increase the share of renewable energy in the power generation mix to 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040,” Mr. Pascual said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave