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Senate approves RCEP and considers establishing an oversight body
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was ratified by the Senate on Tuesday night (RCEP).
The largest free trade agreement (FTA) between the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) and its five FTA partners, namely Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, was ratified by Senate Resolution 485 (SR 485) with the support of a total of 20 senators.
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are among the nations that make up ASEAN.
Minority Senator Imee Marcos abstained, and Senator Risa Hontiveros voted against the RCEP. Pia Cayetano and Francis “Chiz” Escudero, senators, were absent when the vote was cast.
The resolution’s co-sponsors are Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.
Legarda promised during the interpellation that the Senate will closely monitor the agreement’s execution in order to ease the concerns of MSMEs, research and technology, agriculture, commerce, and industry, and other sectors.
Resolving clauses, according to her, were incorporated into the concurring resolution to the RCEP agreement and contain measures that include initiatives to encourage and foster innovation.
Legarda, however, made it plain that how the parties are used would determine who benefits and who loses from the implementation of the RCEP.
“The stakeholders will be impacted by the competition if they do not exploit the gains in the RCEP agreement and identify the comparative advantage,” she warned.
NEDA director: RCEP will help the Philippines’ economy expand
In order to address the worries of numerous sectors that will be directly impacted by the free trade agreement, the sponsors of SR 485 stated that an oversight committee must be established.
Zubiri, for his part, voiced confidence in the Senate’s decision, noting how other neighboring nations had benefited from joining RCEP.
In terms of norms and procedures, this will place us on an equal footing with our neighbors. We’ll stop trade divergence, and we’ll give our sectors a fair shot at being genuinely competitive, added Zubiri.
Also, he gave reassurance to concerned parties, particularly those in the agriculture industry, that the government’s capacity-building and development projects will coexist with the implementation of the RCEP.
The successful implementation of development initiatives for many sectors, particularly the agri sector, is the first step in making RCEP function, according to Zubiri.
Thus, he said, “let’s quadruple the budget for the agriculture sector, if necessary, and let’s make sure that it truly funds the correct projects.
Zubiri stated that other issues still need to be resolved, particularly in the agriculture industry, with or without the RCEP.
“We must consider everything in its entirety. Give our other industries a fair shot to develop under RCEP as we work to solve the issues we have in the agricultural sector. Later on, when we have sufficiently empowered our agricultural sector, they will be able to start enjoying the advantages of RCEP, he added.
The Philippines signed the RCEF in November 2020, and the other signatory nations’ signatures went into effect on January 1st, 2022.***
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