DTI pins hopes on Senate for RCEP approval in early 2023
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has expressed renewed optimism that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be ratified by the Senate early next year, banking on the hopes that it has clarified all the contentious issues raised against the regional trade agreement.
Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo told reporters at the sidelines of the National Export Congress in Pasay City on Wednesday that they are pinning their hopes for a Senate concurrence during the first quarter of the year.
“We have been in constant coordination with the senators with respect to the RCEP and other [free trade agreements] that we are negotiating,” said Rodolfo.
“Given the importance and the urgency of the RCEP, we remain optimistic that this will be considered positively by the Senate,” he added.
RCEP is a free trade pact between all Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states, as well as six of the regional bloc’s trade partners including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The free trade agreement provides preferential arrangements, including market access, in all participating countries.
Last month, the country’s largest business management group called on lawmakers to ratify RCEP without further delay after it languished in the Upper Chamber for more than a year after it was ratified by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said that it “strongly urges” the Senate to ratify the regional trade agreement, citing that it has been signed by other member economies of the Asean.
MAP said that fears of some critics in the agricultural sector are misplaced, unfounded and illusory, adding that government negotiators have repeatedly explained that sensitive agricultural products will remain protected under the agreement.
These products include rice, swine meat, poultry meat, potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbages, sugar and carrots.
—Alden M. Monzon
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