DTI to launch RCEP gains info drive

The aim of the campaign is to make business people aware of the gains for the Philippines’ membership in RCEP.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual said when the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership takes effect in about three months, local exporters will gain a market of 15 countries representing nearly 30 percent of the world’s population, economy, and trade. | Daily Tribune file photo

The Department of Trade and Industry is set to launch a nationwide campaign to enlighten stakeholders on the usefulness and benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which was ratified last month by the Philippine Senate.

In an exclusive interview on Friday over the Daily Tribune’s digital lifestyle show PairFect, Pascual said the aim of the campaign is to make business people aware of the gains for the Philippines’ member in RCEP.

“So far, the publicity has focused on the speculations and the negative impact of RCEP. In response, we are going to do a campaign out of DTI to make businesses aware that they will, in fact, be benefitting from this. Take for instance, preserved pineapples. Now, we can export that to China and Japan since we get preferential tariff from those countries,” he said.

Aside from this, Pascual said pineapple juice, coconut juice, lightning signals, sound signaling equipment, ignition, coffee and sunflowers can now be exported to China and Japan and can be competitive in markets there.

Further, he said that a separate list of exports can be sent to Korea, including locally produced alcoholic beverages such as beer, gin and rum.

“China, Japan and Korea are the three countries that are outside ASEAN where we can have a lucrative and productive business relationship,” he said.

Huge market

In a previous statement, the Trade chief had said that when the agreement takes effect in about three months, Philippine exporters will gain a huge market of 15 countries representing nearly 30 percent of the world’s population, economy and trade.

He said RCEP gains outweigh the losses, and among others, the country needs to take advantage of the enhanced trade facilitation provisions that make cross-border trade simpler and faster.

RCEP is a free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Altogether, the 15 member-countries account for about 30 percent of the world’s population as well as 30 percent of global gross domestic product ($29.7 trillion), making RCEP the largest trade bloc in history.

Agri-leaders enlightened

Meanwhile, Pascual said that prior to the ratification of RCEP, he was able to talk with agricultural leaders that had hesitations and were contentious about the free trade accord.

He said these big farmers’ organizations have been airing their opposition as a way of leveraging so that they can get assurances from the government regarding targeted support for agriculture and raise the productivity of their farms, as well as protection of producers from agricultural smugglers.

“These groups also understand RCEP because they studied it. But I had to point out that many of our important agricultural commodities and necessities are not included in the tariff lines. Examples are rice, cereals, rolled oats, tuna, instant coffee, sugar, potatoes, swine and poultry meat, onions, and garlic. The existing tariffs to protect our local producers will not be touched, indefinitely. But agricultural products tariff will be reduced over 20 years, and we hope that 20 years will be enough time to make our producers competitive,” he explained.

Submit instruments of ratification

Meanwhile, according to DTI Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty, the country’s RCEP chief negotiator, the government, through the DTI, is about to submit instruments of ratification to the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Nations.

Upon receipt of the instruments of ratification, 60 days thereafter, RCEP will be effective in the Philippines.

In the meantime, the draft of the Executive Order is underway, where the schedule of tariff commitments of the Philippines will be incorporated.

“After the President signs it, it will be the basis of our Bureau of Customs for their issuance of a Memorandum Circular implementing the RCEP Agreement, based on the schedule of commitments in the Executive Order,” Gepty said.

He then said they will make sure that these documentary steps are accomplished “so that 60 days after the receipt of instruments of ratification, the Philippines is now ready to fully implement the RCEP agreement.”

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