The United States and the Philippines are to look at expanding trade ties between the two countries - in a move that will be welcomed by the Philippine garment industry, which has been seeking greater access to American markets.

Discussions are also expected to help the Philippine government whether or not to seek to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement currently being discussed by 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

A two-day meeting last week under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) finished with a pledge to expand engagement in coming months on bilateral, regional, and multilateral issues.  

On bilateral issues, the US said it recognised the "considerable" efforts the Philippines has made to strengthen its intellectual property regime and overall framework for protecting worker rights, two areas of focus of recent US-Philippine cooperation. The two sides also agreed to establish a new work programme on labour affairs under the TIFA.

The US and 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.

Last month 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).