The Chambers of Foreign Business have renewed their call for the Senate to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
In a letter to the Manila Times, the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham) and the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) pointed out the advantages of the regional trade and investment agreement, as well as the consequences for the Senate. They failed to ratify the landmark trade agreement, which has already entered into force in Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The RCEP is an economic treaty brokered by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its Dialogue Partners. It was signed on November 15, 2020.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement on September 2 last year. Since then, the trade deal has been awaiting Senate approval.
Various groups, including the Federation of Free Farmers and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, have objected to the Philippines’ participation in the RCEP, citing the lack of readiness of key economic sectors such as agriculture. They wanted to “make sure we have the right resources and tools to compete in the open market”.
“We are disappointed with the delay. We have been informed that the issues related to agriculture have been resolved and that the Senate will ratify this. We hope that this will be achieved in the coming weeks,” said US Chamber of Commerce executive director Eb Hinchliffe.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the RCEP is expected to drive gross domestic product (GDP) expansion above 6%, foreign direct investment growth to 49%, and export growth up to 15%.
ECCP President Lars Wittig emphasized that RCEP is the world’s largest trade bloc, covering 30 percent of global GDP.
“The ECCP reiterated and reiterated its support for the ratification of the RCEP… RCEP membership will bring significant economic benefits to the Philippines and help accelerate recovery from the mounting debt as well as the negative economic impacts of the current COVID pandemic,” Whittig said. .
“Speed is certainly of the essence because delays could lead to more risk of loss in favor of other countries that are already part of the RCEP system. Moreover, there could be a loss of significant opportunities in terms of export markets, investments and jobs for Filipinos,” he added.
Last May, the Philippine Foreign Joint Chambers renewed their call for the government to ratify the RCEP at an early date, “so that the large network of overseas markets already accessible by exports from the Philippines is expanded.”
Some business groups, including the Management Association of the Philippines, the Institute of Financial Directors of the Philippines, and the Makati Business Club, have also repeatedly appealed to the Senate to ratify the Philippines’ membership in the RCEP, saying that “exclusion from the RCEP would be prohibitively costly to our economy and people,” which It makes the Philippines “more unattractive for job-creating investments than we already are.”