RCEP ‘on track’ for 2022 implementation

Trade Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty

THE Asean community and its free trade agreement (FTA) partners are on course to enforce one of the biggest economic trade pacts by early next year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the parties of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are looking forward to implementing the mega trade deal, as this will facilitate further cross-border business activities.

“The Asean and its FTA Partners also remain on track to implement the Agreement by January 1, 2022,” he said in a virtual event on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, President Duterte ratified the RCEP document. It will be brought to the Senate for concurrence “soon,” Lopez said.

The trade agreement was signed by 10 member-states and five Asean FTA partners—Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand—in November last year. The RCEP region accounts for 29 percent or $25.8 trillion of the global gross domestic product, 30 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent ($12.7 trillion) of global trade in goods and services.

Trade Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty said the regional bloc also accounts for half of the global manufacturing output and automotive products; and 70 percent of the electronic products.

Both Lopez and Gepty underscored the importance of RCEP as this promotes regional economic integration, strengthening the recovery efforts of the country amid the pandemic. Among the perks cited under the deal are better market access on goods, services and investments.

“[We] should view RCEP not just as a plain trade agreement that provides enhanced market access and stable business environment, but as a strategic tool to sustain the region’s economic advantage,” Gepty said.

Apart from market access, Gepty said the Philippines also will benefit from a “more stable and predictable business environment” under the FTA.

It will also bode well for the consumers as the competition is expected to bring down prices of goods, he added.

“For these reasons, the Philippines needs to be part of the RCEP free trade area lest it will be left not only in a disadvantaged position but it will be missing a lot of growth opportunities both in trade and investments,” Gepty said.

Lopez earlier urged the local industries to maximize the opportunities with RCEP.

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