Trade rep office bill tops house unit wish list

The creation of the Philippine Trade Representative Office, which will serve as the single agency responsible for international trade negotiations tops the House of Representatives Secretariat’s recommendation for passage this coming 14th Congress.

In a report by Alexis Romero of BusinessWorld:

Noting weak investment flows as well as the country’s low competitiveness ranking, the House of Representatives Secretariat – composed of the Congressional Planning and Budget Department (CPBD) and the Committee Affairs Department – has recommended the passage of 18 measures to promote trade and to enable the Philippines to thrive in the global market.

The list, to be part of a report to be presented to the 14th Congress which will convene later this month, includes bills that were bypassed by the preceding chamber despite being certified as urgent by the Executive.

Topping the list is the Trade Rep Office Bill. According to the House Secretariat:

“Consolidating the negotiating functions of the DA (Department of Agriculture), DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) will ensure continuity of policies and positions despite changes in the administration,

More importantly, it will be tasked to coordinate efforts of implementing agencies to enable the Philippines to meet global trading standards.”

FairTrade has been pushing the government for the creation of the Philippine Trade Representative Office as early as the 13th Congress to strategize and synchronize the country’s trade policies and negotiations.

According to FairTrade, this Trade Representative Office, with multisectoral representation, should be mandated to take the lead in Philippine trade negotiations, review trade policies and trade commitments, and identify countries that discriminate against Philippine goods.

Unfortunately the Trade Representative Office Bill failed to pass the legislative hurdle at the 13th Congress.

Will the Trade Rep Office see the light of day this coming 14th Congress? The current House leadership expressed confidence these measures will be passed since they will just have to be refiled. Some analysts were skeptical, pointing to the lack of will to push the required reforms.

Further, Romero reports that,

Incumbent House Majority leader Prospero C. Nograles said the House will act on the laws immediately.

“Those bills will be refiled and we will try to pass them as soon as possible. They should not have much difficulty getting through,” he said in a text message.

But, truth be told, here’s another fact this coming 14th Congress:

“…political analyst Reynald B. Trillana believes the “systemic problem” of not enough legislators showing up to pass bills, among others, threatens approval of the Secretariat’s wish list.

“The chronic quorum problem … the problems on the work ethics of the House members … It is going to continue. This is caused by poor organization. If they really want to hasten the passage of bills, there will no problem.

Trade rep office urgent, FairTrade said
Industries put act together; trade rep’s office pushed
RP needs trade czar with Cabinet rank, says solon

  1. 1 Trade rep bill timely, says FairTrade « FairTradeWeb

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