October 14, 2015 / 9:37 AM / 5 years ago

Philippines' Aquino wants to join Trans-Pacific Partnership

Philippine President Benigno Aquino speaks during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino said on Wednesday he wanted the country to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since most countries that signed up for the trade pact were existing allies.

Southeast Asia’s second fastest growing economy is not among the 12 parties in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that aims to cut trade barriers and set common standards, from Vietnam to Canada. But it has been invited to join the second round of countries, Aquino said.

“We really want to participate in it,” Aquino told a business forum organised by Forbes magazine.

“Joining TPP does make very good sense to us, especially because of those who are already in it, whom we find ourselves in very close alliances with, on so many different fronts,” Aquino said.

The main proponent of the trade pact, the United States, is one of the Philippines’ biggest trading partners, along with other members, such as Japan and Vietnam, Aquino said.

The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries agreed earlier this month on the TPP, which aims to free up commerce in 40 percent of the world’s economy, by reducing or eliminating tariffs on almost 18,000 categories of goods.

The Obama administration hopes the pact will help the United States boost its influence in East Asia, while countering the rise of China.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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