June 17, 2024

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Nuclear energy, trade in focus: Romualdez-led PH delegation meets with US Rep. Gary Palmer

Photo caption:

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez and his delegation meet with Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama’s 6th District at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., on April 16 (Tuesday afternoon U.S. time), where nuclear energy cooperation and trade relations between the Philippines and the United States took center stage.

NUCLEAR energy cooperation and trade relations between the Philippines and the United States took center stage during a meeting of the Philippine delegation led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez with Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama’s 6th District at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. on April 16 (Tuesday afternoon U.S. time). 

Palmer is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

Romualdez opened the dialogue by emphasizing the significance of the 123 Agreement, a civil nuclear deal entered into by the U.S. and Philippines in November 2023 that allows the transfer of nuclear energy-related materials and components between the two countries.

“The 123 Agreement lays the legal framework for potential nuclear power projects with U.S. providers and paving the way for streamlining the licensing requirements for the private sector with respect to investments on nuclear-related intangible transfers of technology,” Speaker Romualdez said.

Joining the Speaker in the dialogue were Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., House Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, Deputy Speaker David “Jay-jay” Suarez, Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose “Joboy”Aquino II, House Secretary General Reginald “Reggie” Velasco, Deputy Secretary General David Robert Amorin and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Mylene Garcia-Albano. 

The agreement was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Philippine Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla on the sidelines of the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in San Francisco, as witnessed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Negotiations on the 123 Agreement were initiated in November 2022 during a visit by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines.

Shifting the discussion to trade, Romualdez underscored the significance of re-authorizing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which expired on Dec. 31, 2020.

GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program that provides nonreciprocal, duty-free treatment enabling many of the world’s developing countries to spur diversity and economic growth through trade.

“Before the GSP program lapsed, the Philippines exported more than $2 billion worth of goods tax-free to the U.S. annually through the program,” Romualdez said, pointing out the program’s past benefits.

“The program has been instrumental in creating jobs and investments in export manufacturing, benefiting both economies,” he added.

On the potential resumption of GSP incentives, the Speaker noted that U.S. buyers of Filipino GSP products would benefit from the duty-free status of Philippine exports.

“This will lead to decreased prices in the U.S. for these products and commodities, thereby easing inflation,” he pointed out.

Looking toward future trade arrangements, Romualdez discussed the possibility of a free trade agreement and stressed the importance of innovative sectoral arrangements. 

“We need to leverage Philippine resources and U.S. technologies and investments, particularly in critical minerals to support the electric vehicle industry and the broader transition to clean energy, including nuclear energy,” he remarked.

“With your support, we can make more progress in this area of our cooperation,” the Speaker told Palmer.