Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno is fully supporting the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement because of its impact to job creation, foreign direct investments and faster economic recovery.
Diokno attended the plenary session on Feb. 15, 2023 sponsoring Senate Resolution No. 485 to concurr the ratification of the regional agreement.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate was eyeing to ratify the agreement next week.
RCEP is the largest regional free trade agreement in the world, accounting for about a third of the world’s gross domestic product, with signatories from the ten member states of the ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam), the ASEAN Plus Three countries (China, Japan, and South Korea) and ASEAN Plus Six members (Australia and New Zealand).
Diokno said RCEP, coupled with other economic liberalization bills, would result in “accelerated economic recovery and increased investor confidence, thereby attracting more foreign direct investments which, in turn, will generate jobs for Filipinos.”
The manufacturing and exports sector will also be given a wider area for sourcing raw materials, one set of Rules of Origin to access 14 FTA partners, and more trade enhancing procedures, he said.
Micro, small and medium enterprises will also be supported through its integration into the global value chain.
Zubiri assured the public that the RCEP would not harm the agriculture sector and would not include highly sensitive agricultural products.
Under the RCEP, the Philippines will liberalize 33 agricultural tariff lines, and only Australia, China, New Zealand and South Korea will benefit from the reduced agricultural tariffs.
Zubiri said only 15 agricultural products, most of which are not produced in the Philippines, are the only ones included in the 33 tariff lines.
These include live swine and chicken, frozen mackerel, fish fillet––dried, salted or in brine, but not smoked, fresh or chilled olives, celery, and spinach, some provisionally preserved vegetables but not for immediate consumption, black pepper, corn starch, palm nuts and kernels, olive oil, other than re-esterified and hydrogenated in flakes, sausages and feeds for primates.
The 33 agricultural tariff lines are equivalent to 1.9 percent of the total 7,564 agricultural tariff lines and only make up 0.8 percent of the total import value.