Manila, 19 April 2023 (TDI): United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with labor leaders from the Philippines today to discuss the strong relationship between the United States and the Philippines.

Ambassador Tai detailed President Biden’s commitment to empowering organized labor and his vision for worker-centered trade policies that benefit people around the world.

During the meeting, Ambassador Tai highlighted her engagement with domestic and international labor leaders and the sustained U.S. support for advancing worker rights and protections in the Philippines.

She also discussed the ongoing negotiations to develop the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with high-standard labor commitments that facilitate a race to the top in trade.

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Ambassador Tai stressed the importance of bringing governments, employers, and workers together to integrate the concerns of workers and create resilient, sustainable, and inclusive trade policies across the region. She recognized that the Philippines, as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region, can play an essential role in shaping such policies.

Ambassador Tai also heard concerns about significant challenges to human rights, freedom of association, and collective bargaining. She expressed her commitment to addressing these challenges and working with the Philippine government and labor leaders to promote and protect workers’ rights.

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The meeting was an opportunity for Ambassador Tai to underscore the United States’ commitment to a strong and mutually beneficial economic relationship with the Philippines, founded on shared values of worker rights, fairness, and inclusivity. The United States looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Philippine government and labor leaders to build a brighter economic future for workers in both countries.

US-Philippines trade ties

The US and the Philippines have a longstanding trade relationship that dates back over a century.

The two countries have a close economic partnership based on shared values and interests, as well as a mutual desire to promote economic growth and prosperity in the region.

The US-Philippines trade relationship is governed by the US-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), signed in 1989.

The TIFA provides a framework for the two countries to discuss trade and investment issues and to identify ways to enhance economic ties.

Trade between the US and the Philippines has risen in recent years. In 2019, the US was the Philippines’ third-largest trading partner, with two-way trade totaling over $23 billion.

Furthermore, the US is also the largest foreign investor in the Philippines, with total investment reaching over $6 billion in 2019.

One area of focus for the US and the Philippines in their trade relationship is “labor rights.” The US has long been a champion of worker rights and has been working with the Philippines to promote labor protections and reforms.

Likewise, the US has provided technical assistance and funding to support the Philippines’ efforts to improve working conditions and strengthen labor protections.

That is why Ambassador Tai highlighted President Biden’s commitment to empowering organized labor and his vision for worker-centered trade policies that benefit people around the world in her recent meeting with labor leaders from the Philippines.