by Louella Desiderio – The Philippine Star, 7 Nov 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Philippines needs to complete the ratification process for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within the month as the agreement is set to take effect in January next year.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a Viber message yesterday the agency is hopeful the RCEP can be presented and passed at the Senate plenary for ratification this month.
In a virtual briefing yesterday, Trade assistant secretary Allan Gepty said it is very important for the Philippines to complete the ratification and concurrence process soon.
“We hope the concurrence could be completed so we can make it within the year to post our instrument of ratification in the event the Senate would concur,” he said.
He said the RCEP would take effect on Jan.1 next year as the required number of countries have deposited their instrument of ratification of the deal.
The RCEP needs to be ratified by at least six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and three non-ASEAN countries to take effect.
Gepty said ASEAN countries Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have deposited their instrument of ratification of the RCEP.
Meanwhile, non-ASEAN countries that have done the same are Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.
Signed by ASEAN members and trade partners Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in November last year, the RCEP is the world’s largest free trade agreement covering 29 percent of global trade, 29 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), 33 percent of global inward foreign direct investments (FDI), 47 percent of global outward FDI, and 2.3 billion population.
The RCEP was ratified by President Duterte last Sept. 2 and is now with the Senate for concurrence.
Last week, the Senate foreign relations committee started deliberations on the RCEP which was participated by DTI and other government agencies and several interest groups.
Lopez said the government together with key economists and experts have shown the net benefits of being part of RCEP and its positive contribution to GDP and trade.
He said they have also shown the negative impact on growth, trade, investments and jobs if the Philippines would not take part or if its participation in the RCEP would be delayed.
“We should not be left behind. There are enough safety nets to vulnerable sectors and even the exclusions of sensitive list of agriculture products,” he said.
Gepty said the RCEP is also part of the economic recovery strategy from the pandemic.
For businesses, he said the RCEP is seen to provide a stable and predictable business environment.
“There should be clear cut rules not only in conducting trade but also as far as investments is concerned,” he said.
The Senate is set to hold another committee hearing on the RCEP today (Nov.5).