The Philippines will not participate in the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) under its current government, Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported earlier this week, citing the Philippine trade chief.
Gregory Domingo, secretary of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, said there is not enough time for the Philippines to join the TPP, considering legal and constitutional complications. The island country's Constitutional provisions limit foreign ownership in some sectors.
The U.S.-led TPP, a proposed trade agreement involving the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and seven other Pacific-rim nations, is central to President Barack Obama's policy of expanding the U.S. influence in Asia.
The 12 countries involved in the TPP talks have been wrestling with issues such as market access, intellectual property and tariffs.
Turning away from the TPP, the Philippines is participating in negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement (FTA) scheme of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its FTA partners, including China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
The RCEP offers the prospect of a better deal than existing economic partnerships, Domingo was quoted as saying.
As a longstanding ally of the United States in Southeast Asia, the Philippines seems to weigh economic interest higher than anything, as is also shown by demonstrating its willingness to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member last October.
Aiming to support infrastructure projects in Asia, the AIIB has accepted 30 prospective founding members as of the March 31 deadline, including Britain, Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. More applicant countries are still waiting to be accepted.