After lib bills, MBC pushes early okay of RCEP

THE Makati Business Club (MBC) is hoping for the earliest ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) following recent successes by the government in enacting numerous economic liberalization measures.

The MBC said they “look forward” to the RCEP experiencing the “similar success” that legislative measures like the Foreign Investment Act, amended Public Service Act (PSA), and amended Retail Trade Liberalization Act enjoyed recently.

“We look forward to similar success with proposals such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bill, and commit to working with this and the next administration on these,” the group said in a recent statement.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said it is high time the country ratifies the RCEP, as the trade deal would improve the country’s agriculture sector, particularly its food trade with members of the agreement.

Dar said he “fully agrees” with Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez that the benefits of RCEP to the Philippines “far outweigh the cost of not joining.”

Addressing the Management Association of the Philippines’ General Membership meeting on Thursday, Dar said, “Our participation in this mega trade pact is imperative to our economic growth, which is set to boost the state of our trade and investments.”

He added, “RCEP is arguably our best response in recovering and reenergizing our economy especially after this pandemic.”

The business group lauded the Duterte administration for pushing for the enactment of the string of measures that further opened up the Philippine economy to foreign investments.

“The Department of Trade and Industry estimates that the new law (amended PSA) will bring in $60 [to] $100 billion of investments into the country in the next two years. An influx of this scale in sectors that will be opened up will mean competition that will benefit Filipinos with better and more affordable products and services, new technology, and most importantly, more jobs,” the MBC said.

“This will greatly help our economic recovery. According to the World Bank, as of July 2021, 4.3 million jobs were lost due to the pandemic, about 10 percent of total employed workers,” the MBC added.

Last week, Lopez said the enactment of the amended PSA could lead to over $100-billion investments in telecommunication, transportation and logistics in the next two years.

Lopez said current potential investments in the sectors of telecommunication, transportation, logistics and railway—where foreigners are now allowed to own 100 percent equity—are over $60 billion.

President Duterte signed on March 21 the amended PSA, completing the administration’s economic liberalization reform measures.

The new policy will apply to all sectors except for crucial services like transmission and distribution of electricity, water and pipeline sewerage, seaports, petroleum pipeline, and public utility vehicles (PUVs).

“Initial investment leads in the sector will be over $60 [billion] composed of telecom, transportation, logistics, railway.   This is still understated as other leads have not indicated investment amounts. [This] can be over $100 [billion] over two years,” Lopez told reporters.


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