Sec. Ramon M. Lopez with Pinky Webb
 DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez with Pinky Webb of CNN Philippines.

In an interview with Ms. Pinky Webb on  21 November 2017 for the show The Source, Secretary Ramon M. Lopez discussed key takeaways of the Philippines at the recently concluded 31st ASEAN Summit. Among the items noted were agreements signed at the sideline of the Summit and state of Philippine relations with partner economies such as US, Russia, China, Japan, and India.

Sec. Lopez described the ASEAN meeting a tremendous success as he highlighted 10 out of 11 economic deliverables during the Philippine chairmanship. These deliverables include deeper integration on the services sectors, investment promotion, and trade facilitation.

He, likewise, shared the status of the on-going negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and free trade areas. In particular, Sec. Lopez noted bilateral agreements that would promote greater trade between the Philippines and its strategic economic partners. These include, among others, an industrial park development memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China, and the offer made by the President Duterte to their government to tap the domestic telecommunication market (as a possible third player). This might take 6 months to a year to materialize in terms of submission of proposal and market research.

For Philippine-US relations, Sec. Lopez also reiterated the benefits of taking advantage of an expanded GSP coverage for Philippine export products (e.g. travel goods). He shared the discussion between Pres. Trump and Pres. Duterte on the possible establishment of a US-PH free trade agreement, wherein such development would result to more ‘trabaho at negosyo’ for Filipinos.

Other bilateral discussions mentioned by the Secretary included the invitation made by the President Duterte to the Indian government to explore possible investment in the pharmaceutical sector to produce cheaper medicines for domestic consumers. On Philippine-Russia relations, Sec. Lopez shared how companies have shown interests in taking advantage of opportunities through more B2B transactions.

In conclusion, Sec. Lopez expressed that the gains reaped in ASEAN are for all Filipinos.♦