The US has removed the Philippines from a list of countries that fail to provide an adequate level of intellectual property protection or enforcement, in a move that paves the way for increased trade and investment.

The Philippines had been on the Special 301 Watch List for two decades since 1994, and was first listed in 1989.

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) yesterday (28 April) said the country's government has "enacted a series of significant legislative and regulatory reforms to enhance the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Philippines. Philippine authorities have also made laudable civil and administrative enforcement gains."

It added that while significant challenges remain, the commitment of Philippine authorities and the results achieved merit the change in status.

The removal is expected to give the country a better leverage in the international business community, including its efforts to engage in bilateral or regional trade liberalisation initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the Philippines is currently evaluating.

Ongoing efforts to look at expanding trade ties between the two countries include regular meetings under the auspices of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in November 1989.

Earlier this year the US and the Philippines also agreed to intensify cooperation on US-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) issues and on the trade and investment agenda for APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), which the Philippines will host in 2015.

And in February, just-style was told that the Philippine garment industry was continuing to push for privileged access to American markets, after the shelving of the long-anticipated Save Our Industries Act (SAVE Act).