Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met today with Philippines Secretary of Trade and Industry Peter Favila to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Cooperate on Stopping Illegal Transshipments of Textiles and Apparel through the Philippines to the United States.
"This MOU will help safeguard and promote legitimate textile trade between our two countries, while stopping illegal textile transshipments" said Ambassador Schwab. "Today’s agreement demonstrates how the U.S. and the Philippines are committed to working together to strengthen our trading relationship."
The MOU provides for customs cooperation, identification of the actual textiles and apparel manufacturers and joint verification visits to provide our governments with the information necessary to stop textiles and apparel transshipments. The conclusion of this important MOU represents the latest achievement in ongoing work under the bilateral U.S.-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which seeks to strengthen the longstanding, close ties between the U.S. and the Philippines and to enhance two-way trade that currently stands at $16 billion and has been growing annually at between seven and eight percent in recent years.
Before signing the MOU, Ambassador Schwab and Secretary Favila also discussed issues on the U.S.–Philippines bilateral trade agenda, including the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), promoting and protect foreign direct investment, and reviving the WTO Doha Round.
Ambassadors Schwab is traveling to Asia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers meetings and conduct bilateral discussions with trade minister counterparts about expanding global market access opportunities through revived WTO Doha round negotiations as well as bilateral trade issues.
The United States is the Philippines’ most important textile and apparel market, accounting for 80 percent of its textile and apparel exports. In 2005, textile and apparel imports comprised of $2 billion of the United States’ $9.2 billion in merchandise imports from the Philippines, making the Philippines the U.S.’s 12th biggest textile and apparel supplier. For the trailing 12-month period ending June 2006, total U.S. textile and apparel imports from the Philippines were up 8.6 percent over the previous year. The MOU will facilitate growth in the textiles and apparel trade by helping both governments better distinguish between legitimate and suspect shipments.
The United States has previously concluded MOUs to combat textile and apparel transshipments with Hong Kong and Macau and is negotiating MOUs with Indonesia and Taiwan. Negotiations with Korea and Malaysia on these issues are part of the ongoing negotiations for comprehensive bilateral Free Trade Agreements with these two countries.
The U.S. – Philippines bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed in 1989 and provides the two sides with a forum to identify, raise and resolve matters that might otherwise hinder the development of bilateral trade and investment ties.