Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish met with senior Philippine economic ministers and senators, and U.S. and Philippine business leaders last week to discuss trade and investment issues and ways to enhance the bilateral economic relationship, potentially leading to a bilateral free trade agreement.
In meetings with Philippine Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez, Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez, and Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Pinol, Gerrish highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Philippine trade relationship and stressed the importance of U.S. participation in Philippine infrastructure projects getting under way, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said.
Coming out of the meetings, the U.S. and the Philippines agreed to additional cooperation under the existing Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to resolve outstanding priority market-access issues and to consider next steps toward greater trade relations.
“President Trump has made clear his commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and the United States values our very important trade relationship with the Philippines,” Gerrish said. “Greater engagement on trade and investment will benefit both countries, and we look forward to resolving outstanding issues and exploring the best arrangement for strengthening and expanding our trade relations.”
The visit follows up on a November 2017 meeting between President Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at which the U.S. welcomed Philippine interest in deepening the bilateral trade relationship through consideration of a potential free trade agreement, USTR noted.
The U.S. is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. After he pulled the U.S. out of the multilateral TransPacific Partnership, President Trump said he wanted to pursue bilateral trade pacts instead.
The Philippines is currently the 31st largest goods trading partner to the U.S. In 2017, bilateral U.S. goods trade with the Philippines was $20.1 billion, with U.S. exports of $8.5 billion and U.S. imports from the Philippines of $11.6 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with the Philippines was $3.2 billion in 2017.
The U.S. imported $864.17 million worth of apparel and textiles from the Philippines for the 12 months through March. This represented a decline of 10.54% from the previous year.