. . . is the topic of my Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld. Excerpts:
"Anyway, with regard to trade policy, Section 6.a of the consolidated Senate Bill (similar to Section 5.a of SB 252) states that the RPTR shall 'formulate the Philippine trade position.' This, I believe, places a rather profound burden on the RPTR. Even though certain bureaus or offices from different government departments or agencies may be carved out to serve in the RPTR, still, it must be said, that (particularly in the early years) such departments or agencies will retain a considerable advantage in terms of expertise, resources, experience, and network. Furthermore, contrary to the claims that the nature of the trade system requires placing entirely in the RPTR the policymaking function, it is precisely the multi-disciplinary and complex nature of trade policy itself that justifies the need to have the different departments and agencies of the government providing input in the development of trade policy.
No practical reason exists as to why the TRM process under EO 230 (s. 1987) should not continue to exist in formulating trade policy, which it must be remembered is merely a subset of overall economic policy. The danger of 'policy capture' by certain narrow sectors is also minimized as the theoretical risk of only having one office to "pressure" by unscrupulous parties, if any, when formulating policy is not present."