The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be good for the country because of the increased trade that it will bring to different member economies, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Sunday, as he brushed off criticisms that the free trade agreement will be injurious to the country’s local industries.
RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its five FTA partners: Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
In a media interview aboard PR 001 on his way back to Manila from his five-day working visit in Japan, President Marcos responded to comments arguing the measure will go against the government’s self-sufficiency goal.
“I don’t see the logic in that. Actually it will be the contrary because… right now kung wala tayo sa RCEP, hindi natin ma-access ang kanilang mga markets. Iyong mga – lalo na ‘yung mga supply chain na available na ibinigay ngayon sa ASEAN,” Marcos explained.
“All our markets that are mentioned in RCEP are already open. Walang mabubuksan na bago. Para sa akin [it] is to the advantage of the Philippines dahil ‘yung mga suplay nga, the supply chains, the different non-traditional suppliers of agricultural inputs, of agricultural commodities, puwede nating ma-access ‘yun. Without RCEP, we cannot do that,” the President pointed out.
The Philippines is going to continue increasing its investment in the agricultural value chain to make it more competitive, Marcos said, adding RCEP will allow the country to further strengthen its agricultural value chain.
“It opens more trade, more trade. And lagi kong sinasabi ‘di ba walang yumaman na bansa kung hindi dahil sa trade at kailangan we have to involve ourselves in that,” Marcos stressed.
The President also said he is not lobbying for RCEP in Congress, but waiting for it to be ratified.
The Philippines is the only one left behind in ratifying it among its Southeast Asian neighbors.
“So we are leaving ourselves out there, isolating ourselves from the free trade zone that ASEAN is. So sayang naman ‘yung opportunity. That’s why I think RCEP will be a good thing,” the chief executive said.
The Philippine Senate has been deliberating on RCEP with hearings currently at the sub-committee level. #