Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis began a two-day visit to Manila, Philippines, by delivering the keynote address to a combined audience of U.S. and Filipino business leaders, including the Management Association of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, and the American Chamber of Commerce. The Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cuisa, also addressed the audience and participated in a question and answer session alongside Ambassador Marantis.
In his speech, "Charting a Future Course for an Historic Trade Relationship," Marantis expressed optimism about prospects for expanded U.S. trade and investment with the Philippines, a longtime trading partner and strategic ally in Asia. He highlighted current themes of our bilateral trade engagement, noting the recent agreement by the United States and the Philippines on customs cooperation and trade facilitation. He also called attention to the importance of President Aquino's efforts to fight corruption and create the right conditions for sustained broad-based economic growth, which the United States is supporting through the Partnership for Growth program of development assistance. He stressed the importance of improvements in the intellectual property environment and pressed for the resolution of non-tariff barriers affecting our meat trade as positive steps to improve our bilateral trade and investment relationship.
During the speech, Ambassador Marantis highlighted progress being made in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a high standard, broad-based regional trade agreement that will be the key platform for future U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines has expressed interest in potentially joining TPP at some point in the future, although it is not currently part of the initiative. Ambassador Marantis expressed U.S. willingness to be helpful as the Philippines considers potential participation, both in explaining potential obligations and in creating building blocks to potential membership.
Ambassador Marantis also began a series of consultations with the Aquino Administration, Members of Congress, and business leaders today in Manila. Details of these meetings will follow in tomorrow's post.