Competitiveness key for PH to sign regional trade pact

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said he wanted an assessment of the country’s competitiveness first before moving forward with ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.

“In my opinion, let’s take another look. We should carefully study what the effect of RCEP would be. If we ratify it now, what will be the effect on our agricultural community, on our farmers in particular? ” he said.

Negotiations for RCEP were launched by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with six of its free trade partners in 2013. India, however, eventually withdrew from the agreement. free exchange.

RCEP’s 15 member economies, including the ten ASEAN members plus Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea, together account for 30% of the world’s population and gross domestic product ( GDP) worldwide.

Following the Senate’s failure to ratify the trade deal before Congress adjourned sine die, RCEP’s fate now lies with the upcoming 19th Congress.

Marcos said RCEP is good because it aims to encourage trade and engagement, but the state of the country’s competitiveness could be a barrier to its effectiveness.

He said the agricultural sector should be robust enough to face the competition that will ensue with the opening of markets.

“I am a great promoter, a follower of trade. Progressive countries are very involved in trade. All the major economies of the last 200 to 300 years really got rich through trade and commerce,” he said.

“So, let’s re-examine it and make sure our agricultural sector is not disadvantaged. If we ratify this, we need to ensure that our system is ready to compete. Otherwise, the competitiveness of our local industries will be lost,” Marcos added.

Earlier, business organizations in the Philippines led by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) reiterated their call for the Senate to ratify the country’s membership. at RCEP.

Like any free trade agreement, they said RCEP provides vast economic opportunities for the country, as well as certain threats to uncompetitive industries, individual producers and their workers.

“And as in other free trade agreements the country has joined, the overall economic gains in terms of net job creation, economic growth and price stabilization will more than offset the costs,” they said.

The groups said the government has a responsibility to help those affected in a meaningful and effective way, to enable them to achieve competitiveness or adapt to alternative products or livelihoods.

They said RCEP would help MSMEs expand market access, especially with more liberal rules of origin on products traded to benefit from trade concessions.

Comments are closed.