Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez remains hopeful the Philippines’ seven-year exclusion from the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) counterfeiting and piracy watch list will reinvigorate free trade agreement (FTA) discussions with the US.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the exclusion from the counterfeiting and piracy watch list is a positive positioning that helps ensure the country’s continued enjoyment of the US’ preferential trade program and further bilateral dialogue on a long-sought free trade deal.
A bilateral FTA will provide not only an expanded market access for Philippine products but a more stable and predictable economic environment, DTI said in a statement.
At present, trade issues between the Philippines and the US are being discussed under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, and given that the US is one of the major trading partners of the country, “a more stable bilateral agreement becomes imperative”, DTI stated.
Furthermore, the country’s exclusion from the Special 301 list boosts DTI’s confidence for the Philippines to continue exporting over 5,000 products to the US at zero tariff, a perk enjoyed under the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) which the US Congress is expected to renew before its December 2020 expiry.
The Special 301 Report reflects the outcome of a Congressionally-mandated annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.
The US GSP is a periodically renewed program that provides duty-free access to thousands of products from developing countries on condition that beneficiaries comply with 15 statutory eligibility criteria important to US interests, including providing adequate and effective protection of IP rights.
The Philippines has been a beneficiary of the preferential trade program since 1989. In 2019, the US stood as the country’s third most important export destination with shipments valued at US$11.57 billion, a 16.3% share to total full-year exports and a 7.7% climb from 2018 US shipments.