Rice and other agricultural products are protected from tariff reductions and eliminations under the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), considered the world’s largest trade deal involving nearly a third of the global economy .
Deputy Commerce Secretary for International Trade Policy and Trade Negotiations Allan Gepty clarified the matter at a virtual press conference on Friday.
“Sensitive products for the Philippines such as rice, meat, vegetables, among others, exclude Natin from the engagement,” Gepty said.
“When it comes to sensitive products for the Philippine agricultural sector, there is no rice except namin yan sa RCEP,” he said.
Last week, Commerce Secretary Ramon Lopez signed the RCEP Trade Pact on behalf of the Philippines following the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related summits on Sunday.
RCEP is a trade agreement that involves the 10 members of ASEAN as well as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
India was initially included in negotiations for the trade deal, but eventually pulled out last year, apparently over various concerns, including a possible influx of cheap Chinese goods.
The RCEP will facilitate free or liberalized and simplified trade among participating countries in the trans-Pacific region.
“In the RCEP, tariff liberalization for the Philippines is 98.1% which includes tariff elimination and reduction,” Gepty said.
Responding to concerns that the regional trade pact will impact vulnerable sectors such as agriculture due to the influx of cheaper imports from participating countries, the trade official said farmers would benefit. even because they will have access to cheaper raw materials or agricultural inputs.
Gepty added that existing tariffs under the Rice Pricing Law will remain intact, as rice is excluded from tariff cuts and elimination under the RCEP.
He said that local businesses in particular, exporters and manufacturers will benefit from “cheaper costs, convenience in doing business, trade and investment, competitiveness due to the different rules and disciplines included in the RCEP agreement that will foster a conducive business environment, and complementarity because the agreement complements ongoing government programs and initiatives.
Citing studies from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Gepty said exports to the region are expected to increase by 10% due to RCEP.
“Mag-i-increase the import of intermediate goods and equipment … Domestic companies can profit from the sale in different countries of the RCEP region,” he said.
Earlier, the trade official said RCEP should improve market access for key Filipino products, including clothing, auto parts, and agricultural products like canned goods and canned fruit.
“It is also a platform for further investment in the country in vital sectors such as manufacturing, research and development, financial services, game development, e-commerce and the IT-BPO sector. (infotechnology-business process outsourcing), “he said. said in an earlier statement.
RCEP negotiations – which officially began in 2013 – aim to broaden and deepen engagement between the parties and strengthen participation in the region’s economic development.
“The RCEP was built on the existing ASEAN + 1 FTAs in the spirit of strengthening economic ties and improving trade and investment related activities as well as helping to minimize the development gap. between the parties, “according to ASEAN.
The negotiations for the trade agreement aim to achieve a “modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial” partnership agreement between the parties.
RCEP negotiations cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, electronic commerce, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other questions.
Meanwhile, the regional deal is expected to be the largest trade deal in the world in terms of population and gross domestic product (GDP).
It is also expected to enhance regional economic development by facilitating market access for goods and services, as well as stabilizing market predictability with regard to trade regulations and rules. —LBG, GMA News