Philippines ready for RCEP – DTI chief

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has long been ready to participate in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), according to the head of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“I think the Philippines has been ready for some time (for RCEP),” Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said in a television interview with ANC.

“Our neighboring countries have gotten ahead and they’re starting to reap the benefits, “he added.

The RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between and among ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It provides for an open, inclusive and rules-based trading system to promote deeper economic integration in the region.

The trade deal is expected to boost Philippine exports through enhanced market access in the region. It will provide cheaper goods for production and manufacturing, as well as ensure transparent rules and clear mechanisms for resolving trade issues and concerns, and also allow micro, small and medium enterprises to participate in the global value chain.

Pascual shared that the country’s participation in the RCEP has already been a question asked by potential foreign investors.

“So if we do not have what the others have like the membership in RCEP, we are at a disadvantage because through RCEP, we will be able to invite investors to the Philippines as a manufacturing hub so that they can access the other countries in the region as well as the other countries that are part of RCEP such as Japan, Korea, China, New Zealand and Australia,”he said.

Pascual said earlier that the country’s delayed participation in the RCEP would lead to the diversion of investments to other participating countries.

“Considering that a number of trading partners and competitors are also participating in this agreement, delays in the Philippine participation will result in the diversion of trade and investments towards  our neighboring countries, which are already within the regional bloc, at the expense of our local industry and people,” Pascual said in a recent Senate hearing.

“As other countries in the region enjoy preferential treatment arising from enhanced market access, wider sourcing of raw materials and a strengthened and transparent trading system, the existing linkages of the Philippines to the global value chain may deteriorate as investors and businesses look to other countries for better economic environment and opportunities,” he said.

Pascual said the country’s exports, including electronic and agricultural products, could become less competitive if the country does not join the RCEP as intermediate goods used as inputs for further production and manufacturing become more expensive in comparison to our competitors.

“As demonstrated by the high anticipation among foreign investors for the Philippines to be part of this agreement, and alongside the recent economic reforms undertaken by the country such as amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, we are sending a signal of our readiness and seriousness to accelerate the country’s economic recovery and growth in the overall standing in the global trading environment,”Pascual said at the hearing.

“Thus, while we recognize the concerns raised by some sectors, it is important to understand the bigger picture and view RCEP in terms of the opportunities it can bring us, overall. We are situated in a dynamic region of the world and we cannot afford to remain out of its further economic integration,” he said.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/business/2023/02/19/2245932/philippines-ready-rcep-dti-chief