Mega RCEP trade deal signing "milestone" for Philippines, ASEAN: official

MANILA, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) — The Philippines on Sunday hailed the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, saying the conclusion of the mega trade deal among 15 Asia-Pacific countries is a “milestone” for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and will broaden the economic engagements of the Philippines.

The RCEP agreement, which was signed Sunday among its 15 participating countries, “is not only a milestone for ASEAN but a welcome development for the Philippines,” Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

Lopez said the agreement aligns with the Philippines’ “initiatives and reforms in building a more robust and conducive investment and business environment,” as the country addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The RCEP will further broaden the Philippines’ economic engagements with its trading partners through improved trade and investment, enhanced transparency, integrated regional supply chains, and strengthened economic cooperation,” Lopez said.

Lopez said the agreement also “complements ongoing programs and policies to make the country a manufacturing and investment hub in the region.”

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines said the RCEP agreement is a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement.

“It includes not only the usual areas of trade in goods and services, investment, and economic cooperation, but also emerging trade areas such as intellectual property, electronic commerce, government procurement, and competition,” the DTI added.

The DTI said a chapter dedicated to supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) development is also a vital feature of the RCEP agreement that will facilitate the integration of MSMEs into the global value chain.

Lopez said RCEP will bring job opportunities for the Filipinos as it facilitates inclusive and open regional economic policies, especially for MSMEs that can take advantage of the increasing globalization and creation of new supply chain linkages.

He said RCEP opens up more services that can be provided by Filipinos or Filipino companies in the RCEP participating countries.

According to statistics, in 2019, the RCEP participating countries accounted for 50 percent of the Philippine export market, and 61 percent of Philippine import sources.

The RCEP region accounts for 11.4 percent of foreign direct investments entering the Philippines in the same period.

The RCEP region covers a market of 2.2 billion people, or almost 30 percent of the world’s population, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars or about 30 percent of global GDP, and accounts for nearly 28 percent of global trade.

The RCEP participating countries include the 10 ASEAN members, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; and the ASEAN free trade area partners Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

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