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Business

Biz groups push for RCEP ratification, other economic changes

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine and foreign business groups are pushing for the passage of economic reforms, including the Ease of Paying Taxes, as well as the ratification of the mega trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the remaining days of the 18th Congress.

The groups are the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc., Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines Inc., Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc., and Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc.

They urged Congress to approve pending economic bills in the last two weeks of sessions or from May 23 until June 3.

Other measures they want passed include the Open Access in Data Transmission, Philippine Creative Industries, Promotion of Digital Payments, Tax Reform Package 3: Property Valuation and Assessment Reform, Tax Reform Package 4: Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation, The Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act as well as the amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), Retail Trade Liberalization (RTL) Act, and Foreign Investments Act, which are expected to help make the country more attractive to foreign investments.

The pending bills would just need the Senate’s approval of the House’s version, the groups said.

Apart from the identified economic bills, the business groups are also looking forward to the ratification of bills under bicameral conference committee deliberation, such as the Philippine Transportation Safety Board Creation and Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act.

The groups also made a strong push for the ratification of the RCEP, which creates the world’s largest free trade area.

While President Duterte ratified the RCEP last September, the Senate’s concurrence is needed before the country can deposit its instrument of ratification.

The agreement will enter into force for the country 60 days after its deposit of instrument of ratification to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary General.

Last week, Trade assistant secretary Allan Gepty said the country could not afford to miss out on RCEP given the opportunities it would bring.

By not joining RCEP, the country would be sending an inconsistent signal to trade partners and investors given recently passed major economic reforms such as the amendments to the RTL, FIA and the PSA which are aimed at luring more foreign investors to the country, he said.

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