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Foreign biz chambers call for RCEP ratification

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) called on the Senate to ratify Philippine membership to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement before the forthcoming election campaign recess.

The JFC is a coalition of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and South Korean chambers and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.

“As business associations representing major industrialized economies, we are concerned the Philippines export industry that has been severely hit by the pandemic, will miss out unless this free trade agreement is approved by the Senate,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Julian Payne said.

“Without full ratification of RCEP, Philippine companies will be left behind at a competitive disadvantage in trade between RCEP members,” he added.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

RCEP represents 50 percent of the global manufacturing output; 50 percent of global automotive output; 70 percent of electronics; 26 percent of global value chain (GVC) trade volume; 60 percent GVC for electrical/machinery, petroleum/chemicals, textile/apparel, metal and transport equipment; 35 percent contribution to global exports of electronics and machineries; and the main GVC hubs of big economies such as South Korea, Japan and China.

The agreement entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022 following Instruments of Ratification/Acceptance deposited to-date by 11 signatory states that include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the agreement in September, but membership of the Philippines in RCEP is still waiting for concurrence by the Senate.

“Ratification of RCEP will compliment other welcomed economic reforms launched by the administration with the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Retail Trade Act, and Public Services Act to show the world that the fast-growing Philippine economy is an increasingly attractive location for new and expanding foreign investment,” European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Lars Wittig said.

Wittig said the ratification of RCEP will be another step forward to benefit the Philippines.

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines have already issued statements strongly supporting RCEP's full ratification.

Daniel Alexander, president of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, stressed that “the ratification of the RCEP will be instrumental to instilling foreign-investor confidence in the country, which will be urgently needed to revive the economy.”

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