APEC Business Advisory Council | ABAC Philippines

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ABAC PH on the Signing of the RCEP Agreement

ABAC Philippines welcomes the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the RCEP Agreement by the ten members of the ASEAN and its five trade partners – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. For APEC and ABAC, this brings us another step closer to realizing the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, where RCEP serves as a key pathway.

We commend the Philippines’ negotiating team from the Department of Trade and Industry led by Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty with the guidance of Secretary Ramon Lopez and Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo.

The conclusion of the RCEP deal demonstrates the Philippines’ and the economies’ commitment to a more integrated and inclusive regional economy. Despite taking eight years since RCEP was introduced in 2008, it comes at an opportune time when collective action is imperative towards economic recovery and resiliency amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together, parties to RCEP account for about 30% of global GDP and 30% of the world’s population. It represents over half of the Philippines’ export market. This creates immense trade and investment opportunities for our key and potential industries including food and agricultural products, garments and automotive, among others. We also expect a further boost in the competitiveness of our services sectors particularly in the area of IT-BPM (information technology-business process management), as well as financial and professional services.

To realize this however, we need to support critical next steps:

  1. To implement RCEP by ratifying the same. The Agreement will take effect upon ratification by at least six ASEAN and three non-ASEAN members
  2. To complement the deal by adopting digital technology and innovation and enhancing ease of doing business in order to improve the competitiveness of our goods and services. This will facilitate participation of our MSMEs in global value chain through e-commerce, and harness our current and future workforce.

Hence, we call on the government, especially Congress, to ratify the Agreement at the earliest possible time, and to implement measures that ensure the optimum benefit for the Philippines from RCEP.

We urge public-private sector cooperation to leverage technology and innovation towards the Philippines realization of inclusive globalization. That is to ensure that the benefits of liberalized trade and investment are shared by all, especially of developing economies and vulnerable sectors.

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