Marcos lobbies for renewal of US GSP

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has asked the US to readmit the Philippines to its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.

“We would like to request reauthorization… to boost trade and to make US products that are made in the Philippines more competitive in the global market,” he said, according to a transcript of a speech provided by the Palace at a forum organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce at Blair House in Washington, DC.

Mr. Marcos said it has been more than two years since the Philippines’ GSP deal expired.

The Philippine delegation at the forum included Ayala Corp. Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. President Enrique K. Razon, Jr., SM Investments Corp. Vice Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson, and Alliance Global Group, Inc. CEO Kevin L. Tan.

“We are particularly excited and we look forward to welcoming projects such as business process outsourcing, healthcare, semiconductors, energy including nuclear power, and battery and electric vehicle manufacturing,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said at the forum, according to a separate statement issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

US companies represented at the forum were lobbying firm Akin Gump, ExxonMobil Corp., Citibank NA, Tenet Healthcare Corp., FedEx Corp., Kimberly-Clark Corp., and PepsiCo, Inc, the DTI said.

In his speech, Mr. Marcos said the Philippines’ ties with the US are “front and center right now,” after overcoming “some bumps and scrapes” in recent years.

“Security and defense are top of mind… we also have to see that because our economies and our societies have grown more complex, everything, impinges on everything else and… it is very hard for us to separate and say that this is a discrete sector that does not affect any other sector,” he added.

The President called on US companies to invest more in the Philippines, saying that his government has stepped up efforts to “create an atmosphere that is attractive to potential investors and we continue that process.”

The President also touted Philippine companies’ digital transformation, which he said could elevate “the competitiveness of the semiconductor and electronics sector.”

“Because Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) is vulnerable to disruptive technologies, we need to undertake research and development that will help us improve business for OSAT firms in the country,” Mr. Marcos said.

Citing the advent of electric vehicles (EVs), Mr. Marcos said the Philippines can focus on exporting wire harnesses, rubber tires, and automotive electronics.

The Philippines could also benefit from the expected increase in exports of solar and photovoltaic-related products as many countries strive to comply with their decarbonization targets, Mr. Marcos added. 

Mr. Marcos is on a five-day US visit which started on Sunday, during which he has met with US President Joseph R. Biden and other US officials. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza