The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is calling the Senate anew to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement that would pave the way for the Philippines’ accession to the world’s largest trading bloc.
In a letter to Senate President Miguel Zubiri, PCCI President George T. Barcelon said that RCEP “will play a key role in sustaining the Philippines growth trajectory, provide unparalleled opportunities for Philippine businesses and prime the country for further economic growth and development.”
The RCEP is a free trade agreement among the ten member states of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and its five FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea). It covers several areas of cooperation and aims to liberalize trade by eliminating 90 percent of tariffs within the participating economies, while the others will be gradually reduced within a 20-year period. Based on World Bank’s data, the Agreement is expected to benefit 2.3B people or 30 percent of the world’s population, contribute US25.8 trillion or 30 percent of the global gross domestic product, and account for USD12.7 trillion global trade in goods and services and 31 percent of global foreign direct investment inflows.
“We cannot afford to miss out on the RCEP. Non-joining will disadvantage our exports in the world’ fastest growing area. Furthermore, it is detrimental to our goal to bring in foreign investments as investors would rather look at an RCEP signatory country to obtain preferential treatments among the RCEP countries,” Barcelon pointed out.
“However, we must also be able to provide safeguards so that the concerns, especially of our agriculture sector are properly addressed,” Barcelon said.
The Senate Technical Working Group is currently holding meetings on RCEP amidst the strong opposition from stakeholders in the agriculture sector, who assailed to have not been properly consulted by government prior to its ratification by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
Barcelon hopes that the Senate will concur with the ratification of RCEP this 19th Congress so the Philippine business can fully enjoy the opportunities offered by this agreement.
“Countries which have ratified the RCEP agreement are already seeing increases in their overall trade in just one year after its entry into force in early 2022. Among the 10 ASEAN Member States, only the Philippines and Myanmar have not yet ratified the Agreement,” Barcelon added.