On 26 May 2023, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual met with the US-APEC Business Coalition—a prominent US business group, at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2023 Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting. The meeting focused on trade and investment opportunities between the US and the Philippines which are expected to boost the country’s economic growth and expansion efforts.
During the meeting, Secretary Pascual emphasized the need for the immediate reauthorization of the US Generalized System of Preferences (US GSP). He highlighted the robust trade scheme that the Philippines has created for companies exporting to the US market.
He also emphasized that the reauthorization will spur more investments, generate jobs, and promote skills development. Likewise, Secretary Pascual conveyed the country’s desire to establish a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, noting the vast trade and investment opportunities available between the two economies. With this, he also expressed gratitude to those who manifested support for the said trade agreement.
To facilitate investments and create a conducive, transparent, and enabling business environment, Secretary Pascual emphasized the major economic reforms that the Philippines has introduced such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, amendments to the Foreign Investment Act (FIA), Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), Public Service Act (PSA), and the approval of the 2022 Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP).
The Trade Chief also mentioned that, “In support of industry development, tariffs on electric vehicles (EVs) were eliminated, current investment regimes on solar, wind, and tidal energy were liberalized, and the duty-free status of imported meat, rice, corn, and coal were extended to respond to global supply chain disruptions.”
Further, the Philippines’ participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) was also discussed during the meeting where Secretary Pascual underscored, “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. We are mainly interested in the areas of supply chain integration and strengthening crisis response.”
The US is a key trading partner of the Philippines. In 2022, the US was the country’s top export market and 5th largest import market. Relative to this, exports expanded by 5% in 2022 and imports grew by 15% from 2021. Meanwhile, also present in the meeting was DTI Assistant Secretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Allan B. Gepty.