Roxas raises concerns over PH joining TPP
MANILA, Philippines – Should the Philippines join what is set to be the world’s largest free trade area?
The ruling Liberal Party (LP)’s standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II seems to have his reservations over the country joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a US-led broad agreement that would lower trade barriers and create uniform market standards among its 12 members.
“Ang ating pagpasok dito sa mga pangdaigdigang paguusap na ito, kasunduan, ay hindi automatic. Dapat nating tignan kung ano ba ang plus dito at minus para sa atin,” said Roxas in a chance interview on Monday, November 23. (Our entry into this international agreement is not automatic. We must first assess what the plusses and minuses are for us.)
Roxas, who has an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Economics, said the country’s agricultural sector might not be ready to battle it out with the big guns in the TPP which counts the US, Japan, Canada, Vietnam and Malaysia as its members.
“Ang pinakababantayan ko diyan ay ang epekto nito sa agriculture sector natin. Dahil ang agriculture sector natin ay fragmented. Ang agriculture sector ng ibang bansa ay industrialized farming mga makina, malalaking kompanya ang nagsasaka doon. Dito sa atin, ordinaryong tao ang nagsasaka,” added Roxas.
(What I’m watching out for is its effects on the agriculture sector. Because our agriculture sector is fragmented. The agriculture sector of other countries involves industrialized farming with machines, farmers there are part of big companies. Here, ordinary people are farmers.)
Roxas compared TPP to other bodies such as the World Trade Organization, which the Philippines is a member of and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the country is signatory to, saying those organizations help the country in defending its rights.
Roxas, who was trade and industry secretary under two different presidents, added: “Hindi automatic ito, at dapat alam ng kung sino man ang mamuno sa ating bansa kung anong mga implikasyon nito. Hindi lamang sa teoriya, kundi din sa actual.” (Membership in the TPP is not automatic and leaders of our country should know the implications of a deal like this. Not just in theory but in actual instances.)
Membership in the TPP has yet to be made open to the Philippines, but during a bilateral meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economy Cooperation (APEC) in Manila, President Bengino Aquino III sought US President’s Barack Obama’s help in the country’s bid to join the deal.
Philippine trade and finance chiefs are pushing for the country’s entry into the deal over fear it would lose its share of the US market to neighboring countries that are part of TPP.
TPP members also met on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Manila.
Asked about another trade agreement, the 7-member Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) being pushed by China, Roxas said it’s “part of the geo-political competition between China and the US.”
“Dapat hindi tayo sumama dito sa kanilang competition nang hindi malinaw sa atin ang ating interes (We shouldn’t be dragged into this competition without first making clear our own interests),” he added.
Roxas contrasted APTA with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) trade deal, which he said puts the Philippines in a more equal footing with its neighbors.
“Kung automatic kasama yung mga big boys, kasama yung mga malalaking ekonomiya na sobrang dami ang kanilang sandata sa trade war, ay siguro dapat pag-isipan natin at maghunos dili tayo,” he said. (If we’re automatically with the big boys, with the big economies with so much at their disposal for the trade war, maybe it’s right to mull it over and practice self-restraint.) – Rappler.com
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