Marcos committed to joining RCEP — Trade dep’t

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. answers questions from the media after his first Cabinet meeting in Malacañan Palace, July 5. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE Department of Trade and Industry said the Marcos administration is committed to signing up for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). 

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is committed to ratify it (RCEP),” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Mr. Pascual said that the Philippines needs to join the RCEP, which foreign companies consider a must before investing in the Philippines.

“Those who want to invest in the Philippines… always ask when the Philippines is ratifying RCEP, because when they establish factories here for the export market, they would want to export to RCEP member countries,” Mr. Pascual said.

“If the Philippines is not a member of RCEP, it will not be entitled to reduced tariffs (that make it) competitive in the export market,” he added.

Touted as the world’s largest free trade agreement, RCEP started taking effect in the various jurisdictions on Jan. 1. The participating countries include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand.

The Philippines has yet to sign on to RCEP after the Senate failed to give its concurrence in the previous Congress due to concerns by some Senators over the absence of safeguards for agriculture.  

According to Mr. Pascual, the agriculture industry enjoys adequate protections.

“There are critical agricultural items that will not be touched by RCEP. For other farm products, it would take years before lower tariffs take effect,” Mr. Pascual said. —  Revin Mikhael D. Ochave