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Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis today completed two days of consultations on ways to expand and further improve the bilateral trade relationship with the Philippines. In his meetings with Finance Secretary Purisima and Trade and Industry Secretary Domingo, Ambassador Marantis expressed support for President Aquino's anti-corruption initiatives, as well as U.S. interest in continuing to expand engagement and finding new avenues of cooperation under the auspices of the bilateral U.S.-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Ambassador Marantis reiterated U.S. willingness to work with the Philippines as it explores potential future participation in the nine-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a priority trade initiative of the Obama Administration and the key platform for U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific. He noted that the United States is prepared to undertake bilateral initiatives, such as the bilateral customs administration and trade facilitation agreement signed last November, that can serve as building blocks toward Philippine participation in the TPP.
Ambassador Marantis also highlighted the work the United States is undertaking in the Partnership for Growth (PFG), and that through the PFG, the United States can assist the Philippine government in policy reforms it is pursuing, including ones that could serve as building blocks toward participation in the TPP. PFG is a key development initiative of the Obama Administration and the Philippines is one of only four countries, and the only Asian country, in the PFG.
With Agriculture Secretary Alcala, Ambassador Marantis pointed to the expanding multi-billion dollar agricultural trade relationship between the United States and the Philippines. He stressed the importance of finding a mutually beneficial solution to trade disruptions affecting the meat sector as soon as possible.
Ambassador Marantis also met with Justice Undersecretary Baraan where they discussed steps being taken by the Philippine government in addressing the issues raised in the ongoing GSP review of worker rights in the Philippines, including the prosecution of cases involving the killing and harassment of labor leaders.
Ambassador Marantis also called on Senator Edgardo Angara and Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, where he highlighted the importance of the bilateral trade relationship and conveyed U.S. interest in, and commitment to, continue working with the Philippines to elevate the relationship and find new avenues of cooperation.