Amidst an era marked by rising protectionism, geopolitical conflicts, and heightened trade tensions, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) advocates for a more nuanced approach to trade relations during the Consumer Electronics Show Trade in Tech Innovation Policy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA last 09 January 2024.
In the event, DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba emphasized the need for a multifaceted trade strategy in potential negotiations with the US. This approach would extend beyond traditional focuses on tariffs and market access, especially considering the current emphasis on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) of the US.
Undersecretary Aldaba also proposed that any potential free trade agreement between the Philippines and the US should encompass various new trade areas.
Key elements include advocating for open and fair trade while protecting domestic industries, setting standards and rules, establishing regulatory frameworks that safeguard intellectual property rights, ensuring fair labor standards, promoting sustainable trade practices, and addressing aspects of digital trade, data privacy, and cybersecurity.
The agreement should emphasize technological innovation, research and development (R&D), education, and the integration of emerging technologies in trade.
The Philippines is an active participant in the IPEF discussions alongside nations like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Korea, Japan, India, Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand. The IPEF focuses on supply chains, clean energy, decarbonization, infrastructure, tax, and anti-corruption measures.
Additionally, Undersecretary Aldaba noted that the IPEF might redefine trade policy in the 21st century, marking the US’s re-engagement and leadership in trade across Asia, particularly after withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Furthering its collaboration with the US, the Philippines is also engaged with the US State Department in exploring opportunities under the International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund, established by the CHIPS Act.
This partnership aims to develop and diversify the global semiconductor ecosystem, enhancing the resilience, security, and sustainability of this critical value chain.
Currently, a comprehensive assessment of the Philippine semiconductor ecosystem is underway, examining regulatory frameworks, workforce, and infrastructure needs.
The findings from this assessment will lay the groundwork for future joint initiatives to advance this vital sector.
For the DTI, trade remains a cornerstone of the new industrial strategy, driven by science, technology, and innovation. This strategy aims to cultivate more globally competitive and innovative industries, attract investments, and create high-quality jobs.
As the Philippines integrates new technologies like artificial intelligence, forging global trade and investment connections is imperative. Per Undersecretary Aldaba, trade is instrumental in the dissemination and absorption of new technologies and innovative practices.
It stimulates competition and innovation, creating an environment conducive to the flourishing of new ideas, skill enhancement, and faster spread of technologies.