RCEP a 'major game changer' for PH economy --- NEDA

The Philippines has gotten a “good deal” from China through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Arsenio Balisacan said.

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(From left) NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan talks to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile during a meeting in Malacañang on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Photo from the Presidential Communications Office)

In a recent Palace media briefing, the country’s socioeconomic planning secretary underscored the importance of the regional free trade pact and its likely benefits to the local economy.

He described RCEP as “a major game changer” because it would provide for the Philippines access to a much bigger market.

“We have so much potential for processed products, for example, processed agricultural products, but using Filipinos as the only market will not bring you anywhere or will not bring you far. You need to have a much bigger market for these products,” Balisacan said.

“And so, RCEP provides that kind of framework. In fact, in the negotiation that we had with China and the other member countries, we got a good deal. So, that’s one,” he added.

The agreement, however, is more than just opening new and bigger markets for the Philippines.

The NEDA chief said it signals to the world the readiness of the Philippine to do business, and it also means the country has respect for trade, customs, and labor rules and conforms with global practices.

“Just by being a member, the potentials grow and so, even if—especially for investments, those in fact would be the much greater benefits, when investments come in because our investment climate, you know, is now comparable to those more advanced than us,” Balisacan pointed out.

Under the RCEP, the country would have to conform to international standards once it starts shipping its products, particularly agricultural produce, overseas.

The NEDA Board last April approved the Executive Order (EO) operationalizing the Philippines’ tariff commitment under RCEP.

The EO took effect on June 2, the end of the 60-day period after the Philippine has deposited its instrument of ratification, and shall be the basis of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for the issuance of Customs administrative order, which shall be distributed to all ports to allow for the implementation of the preferential tariffs on e-ports from RCEP member countries.

Entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, the RCEP is an initiative led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which the Philippines is a member of.

It is considered the world’s largest free trade area in terms of the Parties’ combined gross domestic product (GDP) which is almost a third of the world’s GDP.

The framework also opens access to a market size that accounts for almost one-third of the world’s population.

RCEP comprises the 10 ASEAN member states, and its trading partners Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.