FEBRUARY 20, 2023 — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) remains steadfast in its support toward the urgent ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.

“We, in NEDA, consider RCEP to be a vehicle that would drive our economy’s sustained growth through regional and global trade as well as through greater investment in strategic sectors. Being part of RCEP will further enhance our market access, placing us at par with other RCEP-participating countries and the world’s largest economies such as China, Japan, and Korea, among others,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

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“Several consultations with concerned stakeholders and studies on the subject affirm that joining RCEP would unlikely lead to a surge in agricultural imports. In any case, with or without RCEP, the government strives for a competitive and resilient agriculture sector,” Balisacan said.

Based on the 2021 trade data from the International Trade Center, under the RCEP, only 15 agricultural commodity groups corresponding to 33 tariff lines will have lower tariff rates compared to some ASEAN+1 FTAs. This is equivalent to only 1.9 percent of the total 1,718 agricultural lines and only 0.8 percent of the total agricultural imports. Of these 33 tariff lines, 17 are raw materials, 8 are intermediate products, while only 8 are final goods.

The remaining agricultural tariff lines will have equal or higher rates compared to other ASEAN+1 FTAs, or are excluded from import tariff concessions under the RCEP.

“Joining RCEP will enhance our market access for key agri-based exports, as partner countries agreed to lower tariff rates on Philippine exports. Non-participation or delayed RCEP ratification may result in foregone opportunities. We aim to promote greater openness, create a business-friendly environment, and provide a more stable and predictable system of trade,” Balisacan said.

The Philippines is currently exporting a number of products for which concessions were secured (e.g., preserved pineapples, pineapple juice, chocolate) and securing better market access for these products through RCEP opens the possibility to further widen the market base in these countries.

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