The Philippines is hoping to join the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the first regional agreement in which the United States will participate in Asia, in a bid to build business with the US.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said forging a bilateral agreement with the US, the Philippines leading trading partner, would be remote if the Philippines will not join the TPP.

“The only way we can have a trade agreement with the US right now is through the TPP so it makes a lot of sense for us to be with TPP. Otherwise, we will be left behind,” he said in a media briefing yesterday (30 September).

Domingo, however, recognises the TPP agreement requires the government to strengthen its laws on human rights, child labour, environmental protection, property rights, among others.

The multilateral free-trade pact aims to promote economic integration among nations in the Asia-Pacific region. It currently comprises eight countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam and the US.

The third round of negotiations is scheduled for October.