One of the most influential business groups in the Philippines is pushing for the
immediate ratification by the Philippine government of the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement (FTA).
The APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Business Advisory Council
(ABAC) Philippines said RCEP must be immediately ratified by both the
government and Congress so the country can benefit from the FTA.
“ABAC Philippines welcomes the signing of the Regional Comprehensive
Economic Partnership or the RCEP Agreement by the ten members of the
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its five trade partners –
Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. For APEC and ABAC,
this brings us another step closer to realizing the Free Trade Area of the Asia
Pacific, where RCEP serves as a key pathway,” the group said in a statement.
They commended the Philippines’ negotiating team from the Department of
Trade and Industry led by Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty with the guidance of
Secretary Ramon Lopez and Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo in getting the
FTA executed and signed.
“The conclusion of the RCEP deal demonstrates the Philippines’ and the
economies’ commitment to a more integrated and inclusive regional economy.
Despite taking eight years since RCEP was introduced in 2008, it comes at an
opportune time when collective action is imperative towards economic
recovery and resiliency amidst the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)
pandemic,” ABAC said.
RCEP accounts for about 30 percent of global gross domestic product and 30
percent of the world’s population. It also covers over 50 percent of the
Philippines’ market for export products.
“This creates immense trade and investment opportunities for our key and
potential industries including food and agricultural products, garments and
automotive, among others.
We also expect a further boost in the competitiveness of our services sectors particularly in the area of IT-BPM (information technology-business process management), as well as financial and professional services,” the group added.
Among the other steps ABAC is recommending for the Philippines to help get
RCEP off the ground are: adopt digital technology and innovation and
enhancing ease of doing business in the country; and public-private sector
cooperation to leverage technology and innovation towards the Philippines’
realization of inclusive globalization.
RCEP was signed by the ten member-states of ASEAN and Australia, China,
Japan, New Zealand and South Korea last Sunday or the last day of the latest
ASEAN Summit hosted by Hanoi. CURRENTPH