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Manila neutral toward Taiwan's TPP, RCEP bids

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Philippines yesterday expressed a neutral stance toward Taiwan's ongoing accession bid to two major regional trade pacts, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

According to officials at the Manila Economic and Culture Office, Taiwan (MECO, 馬尼拉經濟文化辦事處), the Philippines would not oppose Taiwan's accession bid to the TPP and the RCEP. The official stated that based on previous experiences in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) negotiations, Taiwan's participation has been deemed tangibly productive, and the Philippines would not impede Taiwan's accession to the TPP and RCEP.

MECO Chairman and CEO Amadeo R. Perez Jr. however, could not be reached for comment, as he is convalescing from an injury in Taiwan.

When prompted on whether the Philippine's diplomatic relations with China would be a factor affecting its posture toward Taiwan under the rubric of the “One-China” policy, an MECO official advised Taiwan to base its TPP and RCEP accession on precedents set during previous WTO and APEC negotiations.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement scheme involving the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes China, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. RCEP negotiations are expected to see completion in 2015.

The TPP is a U.S.-led trade pact to which the Philippines expressed consent. Reports, however, indicate that restrictions in the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution may hamper the nation's accession to the TPP. Constitutional amendments may be required if the Philippines were to meet the stringent requirements of the TPP and lift restrictions on foreign entities' ability to own land, businesses, services, and practice professions, among other requirements calling for a more open market, according to reports.

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