The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) emphasized the key role of free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement will play in lowering rising prices within the region at a webinar hosted by the Economic Journalists’ Association of the Philippines (EJAP) last 11 May 2022.
DTI Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty emphasized that trade agreements would help cushion the blow of rising prices through reduced tariffs on intermediate goods, or goods that are used for further production locally, and streamlined customs processes, which would reduce administrative costs for businesses.
For RCEP, he noted that a unified set of guidelines on certification procedures would benefit Philippine producers, allowing them to access a larger area for sourcing of raw materials, at a potentially reduced cost. The RCEP agreement also provides a clear time period in customs clearing for goods within the trade bloc, at 6 hours for perishable goods and 48 hours for other types of goods, reducing wastage and increasing overall economic efficiency.
He highlighted that RCEP, along with upgrades to existing trade agreements such as the ASEAN Australia New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA), and recently passed economic reforms would play a key role in the country’s efforts to become a manufacturing and innovation hub within the region.
Asec. Gepty also stressed that accession to RCEP would send a positive signal to investors seeking to do business within the region that the Philippines’ trade policy remains consistent notwithstanding the upcoming change in administration.
“Take note that these free trade agreements, these are international agreements, so regardless of the change in administration, the fact remains that we are working under a rules-based system. Our businesses and investors are well mindful of this, and this is the primary reason why countries are very active in pushing for a very comprehensive economic partnership agreement, not just covering market access, but also rules and disciplines,” he said.
Other speakers at the event included Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture (DA), and Dr. Roehlano Briones, Senior Research Fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS).