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At a time when the US Congress is not keen on any kind of free trade agreement (FTA) with the country, the Philippine Embassy in the United States is working on alternative measures to expand the country’s economic ties with the world’s biggest economy.

In this B-Side episode, Jose Manuel “Babes” D. Romualdez, Philippine ambassador to the United States, explains to BusinessWorld reporter Keisha B. Ta-asan how crucial it is to renew the country’s participation in the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trading scheme.

“We’re working on the GSP as a priority, and the FTA will be a continuing effort on our part to see how we can get one done,” he said.

The Philippines has been pushing for the reauthorization of its GSP eligibility after it expired in 2020. The program allowed duty-free entry of more than 5,000 Philippine products into the US, including electronics and agricultural products.

The US is also pushing for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) as an alternative to FTAs. But the US-led trade framework would focus on wider trade agreements with multiple countries.

Launched in May 2022, the IPEF pushes for resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness among the 14 participating nations. This includes the US, Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The ambassador also noted that US companies are more interested in investing in the Philippines, especially after the economic team visited Washington D.C. and presented the country’s stronger-than-expected economic growth.

The Marcos administration’s economic team touted the Philippine economy’s gains during an April 12 briefing attended by around 180 representatives from US companies and industry groups.

Many businesses also consider the Philippines a “safe place” to invest amid tensions between the US and China, Mr. Romualdez said.

Recorded physically on April 14, 2023.


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