Senate’s RCEP okay pressed

RCEP seeks market access for all commodities in the region to boost exports and provide cheaper goods for production and manufacturing

October 29, 2021

The Philippines prodded signatory countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to step up with their accession deals to allow the full implementation of the multilateral trade pact by the start of next year.

RCEP would eliminate tariffs on as much as 90 percent of goods traded within the world’s biggest economic bloc.

President Rodrigo Duterte pushed the RCEP agenda during a series of meetings by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders with its Dialogue Partners and during the ASEAN-Australia Summit held last 26 October.

Mr. Duterte pointed to free trade as a catalyst for post-pandemic recovery.

The Philippines itself has yet to fully realize its participation in the concord which remains pending with the Senate for concurrence. President Duterte ratified the RCEP Agreement way back on 2 September 2021.

“We hope to finish the concurrence process the soonest possible time so that the Philippines can already deposit its Instrument of Ratification, and be one of the first set of economies to benefit from the Agreement once implemented by early 2022, as targeted” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

“To accelerate post-pandemic recovery, we must further strengthen economic ties through the RCEP,” President Duterte said.

An ASEAN-led Free Trade Agreement (FTA), RCEP will consolidate existing regional pacts with Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

It will provide an open, inclusive and rules-based trading system that can serve as a major platform to deepen and broaden economic integration in the region.

Once implemented, RCEP will enhance market access for all commodities in the region, which will boost exports and at the same time provide cheaper goods for production and manufacturing.

A key objective of the treaty would be to lay down transparent rules in resolving trade issues and to include micro, small and medium enterprises into the global value chain.

“Being part of an FTA is not only about market access, but a big attraction as well for investors to locate in the country,” Lopez said.

“RCEP should be viewed as a platform to encourage more investments and service providers in vital sectors such as manufacturing, creative sectors, financial services, research and development, information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO), professional services and energy, among others,” he explained.

Based on 2020 data, the RCEP free trade area accounts for 29 percent of the world’s trade, 29 percent of world’s GDP, 33 percent of global inward Foreign Direct Investments, 47 percent of global outward FDI, and 2.3 billion population.

President Duterte, together with other leaders, discussed the importance of cooperation in ensuring medical supplies for public health emergencies, collaboration in vaccine production, and the implementation of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework.

He stated that Mr. Duterte also called for the acceleration of the development of the Circular Economy and Blue Economy models for a sustainable future and the need to future-proof the region by building smart cities and utilizing digital technology.

Lopez aired hopes to complete the agreement as soon as possible, “so that the Philippines can already deposit its Instrument of Ratification, and be one of the first set of economies to benefit from the agreement once implemented by 2022, as targeted.”