MAKATI CITY—A trade pact that is part of an agenda to spur domestic reform, to improve the business climate and to secure economic gains was how Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) envisaged the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on the first day of the Philippine hosting of the ASEAN Workshop on TPP, a two-day event on 15-16 September.
The Philippines’ possible accession to the TPP would mean greater opportunity to boost the country’s position in the global market through local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), workers and consumers, as they benefit from bigger potential markets and increased foreign investments, according to DTI Assistant Secretary for Industry Development Anna Maria Diaz-Robeniol. 
Speaking on behalf of DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Robeniol said that the workshop may be viewed as a strategic avenue encouraging “an ASEAN discussion on relevant issues and concerns surrounding TPP,” whose package was finalized in October 2015.

“The sharing of insights and ideas will surely matter most as we talk about TPP as one of the most important trade agreements concluded in our time,” continued Robeniol, adding that the workshop would be “instrumental in identifying, discussing and developing answers to many issues that impact on the region’s investment attractiveness and growth potential.”
The workshop, participated in by delegates from ASEAN Member States, also aimed at providing practical knowledge on how the many different levels of development among TPP participating countries have been addressed in the key areas of market access in good and rules of origin, trade in services and labor, and investment, as well as other areas such as intellectual property rights, government procurement, state-owned enterprises and competition policy. 
DTI also echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration at the 13th ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Lao PDR last week that the Philippine’s economic thrust towards inclusive growth focuses on innovating MSME development, e-commerce, youth and women entrepreneurship.
“The Philippines’ current competitive position may be further enhanced through multi-lateral agreements, as the country continuously becomes a regional hub for growth, investments and exports—where peace and order is evident,” Robeniol added. 
DTI noted that Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore and Viet Nam are already part of the TPP, and that the Philippines has already registered its interest to join said partnership, “with an objective to meet the high standards of the trade pact.”
Last March, at the 22nd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat in Thailand, the Philippines, through then-DTI Secretary Adrian Cristobal, offered to host and organize the workshop. The event was co-organized by the ASEAN Secretariat. (DTI-PRU)