Manila Standard - 20 October 2022
PH seen ratifying economic treaty end-2022
By Macon Ramos-Araneta
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi remains confident that the Philippines will ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of this year.
Speaking during the 11th Editors’ Roundtable organized by Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia and Khmer Times, Lim noted that except for the Philippines, all the other member-states of ASEAN have ratified RCEP.
“All of us have ratified it except…we have to wait for the Philippines to ratify the agreement. We are very confident that the Philippines will ratify the agreement by the end of this year,” Lim said.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is yet to make a decision on the ratification of the RCEP as he wants to ensure the trade agreement will not be detrimental to local industries.
Mr. Marcos cited the need for an assessment of the country’s competitiveness first before pursuing the trade agreement’s ratification.
“The RCEP will be difficult to pass if the Executive branch doesn’t show full support for it,” the President said.
However, he noted that the state of the country’s competitiveness could be a stumbling block to the effectiveness of RCEP.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, admitted it will be difficult to pass the RCEP if the Executive branch would not show support for it.
Meanwhile, Lim also said RCEP has been negotiated for the last eight years, and “we are very happy that we completed the negotiation in 2020 and 2021.
“We have seen that RCEP was implemented January 1 this year,” further stated Lim.
RCEP is a free trade agreement that involves the 10 ASEAN members along with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. The RCEP negotiations intend to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and a mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement.
Lim is also optimistic that companies have commenced using RCEP, particularly those especially those in Northeast Asia.
He said they are monitoring how the agreement is being utilized by the business community and the ASEAN + 1.
“We are working with a panel to look into data,” said Lim, adding that there is always room for improvement based on what they have felt in the early stages of the implementation,” said Lim.
“And we need to reach out to the business people to make sure that they really understand how to implement the agreement.”
Lim further said they need to keep monitoring and promoting RCEP to private sector to enhance utilization rates and to stage time for the sector to understand the rules of the agreement and to adjust their business processes in accordance to the rules.
He said RCEP parties need to promptly and faithfully implement the commitment that they have made including building agenda as well as actively pursuing economic and technical cooperation
RCEP, he said, comprise economies with diverse backgrounds and level of wealth.