In the series of meetings of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with its Dialogue Partners, Leaders of RCEP Participating Countries are in unison for the immediate ratification and entry into force of the agreement not only because it will create a stable and robust business environment but because it is viewed as an important tool in the economic recovery efforts of the region.

“To accelerate post pandemic recovery, we must further strengthen our economic ties through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP),” said President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

RCEP is an ASEAN led Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which consolidates its existing regional FTAs with Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand into   a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement. It provides an open, inclusive and rules-based trading system that can serve as a major platform to deepen and broaden economic integration in the region.

Once implemented, RCEP will enhance market access of substantially all the goods in the region, which will boost Philippine exports, and at the same time can provide cheaper goods for production and manufacturing, efficient and convenient ways of trading, transparent rules, clear mechanism for resolving trade issues and concerns, and inclusion of MSMEs into the global value chain.

According to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, “Being part of an FTA is not only about market access, but a big attraction as well for investors to locate in the country. Thus, RCEP should be viewed as a platform to encourage more investments and service providers in vital sectors such as manufacturing, creative sectors, financial services, research and development, IT-BPO, professional services, and energy, among others.”

On 2 September 2021, President Duterte ratified the RCEP Agreement, and presently it is now with the Senate for concurrence.  “We hope to finish the concurrence process the soonest possible time so that the Philippines can already deposit its Instrument of Ratification, and be one of the first set of economies to benefit from the Agreement once implemented by early 2022, as targeted” Sec. Lopez added.

Based on 2020 data, the RCEP free trade area accounts for 29% of the world’s trade, 29% of world’s GDP, 33% of global inward Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), 47% of global outward FDI, and 2.3 billion population.  In the meeting, Sec. Lopez also stressed that President Duterte, together with other leaders, discussed the importance of cooperation in ensuring medical supplies for Public Health Emergencies, collaboration in vaccine production, and the implementation of ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework.  He stated that President Duterte also called for the acceleration of the development of Circular Economy and Blue Economy models for sustainable future and the need to future proof the region by building smart cities and utilizing digital technology. ♦

Date of Release: 28 October 2021