Philippines, Asean push RCEP deal in November
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — The Philippines has joined members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other trade partners in pushing for the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal by November this year.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and trade ministers of ASEAN states, as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, reaffirmed the signing of the agreement this November during the 10th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting conducted through video conference on June 23.

“Together, let us send a strong signal that we continue to deepen our economic partnership despite the challenges and uncertainties in the global trade environment. RCEP remains crucial in restoring business confidence and maintaining a positive outlook in the region,” Lopez said.

Amid the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 crisis, the conclusion of the RCEP has become more important to strengthen cooperation among countries to minimize disruptions and promote recovery.

Recognizing India’s role in advancing the region’s economic integration, the trade ministers also said they would welcome the country back to RCEP.

In November last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the country’s withdrawal from RCEP due to unresolved issues and concerns including entry of goods from other countries which may hurt its local industries.

Lopez said the Philippines stands ready to engage with all RCEP participating countries in resolving remaining issues in order to finalize the agreement.

RCEP participating countries launched negotiations for the deal in 2012.

Once entered into force, RCEP would be the world’s largest trade deal by population and gross domestic product.

Apart from enhanced market access for goods and services, RCEP would also provide stability and predictability on trade rules and regulations.

In addition to enabling an increase in Philippine exports to RCEP members, the trade pact is also expected to encourage investments in manufacturing, energy, and technology-based industries.

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