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Foreign chambers urge Senate to ratify RCEP trade deal reducing red tape, import tariffs

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Seven foreign business groups said a membership of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will “bring economic benefits that will hasten recovery from the scars, higher debt, and other damage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign business chambers are calling on the Senate to ratify a regional trade and investment agreement in the region once it resumes session this week.

Seven foreign business groups said membership in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will "bring economic benefits that will hasten recovery from the scars, higher debt, and other damage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."

"We have encouraged the Philippines to apply to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), and today, we are asking the Philippine Senate to ratify the RCEP so that the large network of foreign markets already accessible to exports from the Philippines will be further expanded," their statement read.

RCEP is a regional free trade agreement that is aimed to reduce tariffs on imports and red tape. 

Foreign chambers that are signatories to the statement include: 

  • American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. 
  • Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc.
  • Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.

The government needs Senate concurrence to enter into and ratify treaties and agreements but not to rescind or scrap them. 

The groups said that once the Senate ratifies the RCEP, “a large number” of their current investors will pour in more funds in the Philippines and new investors from other countries such as Australia, Europe, New Zealand, North America, and Northeast Asia will also consider putting in resources in the Philippines.

"RCEP also offers other new advantages for exporters located in the Philippines that will benefit our member companies," they said.

President Rodrigo Duterte already ratified the RCEP last year in September and months later in December, the Philippine Exporters Confederation also urged the Senate to immediately act on the concurrence of the agreement. 

READ: Immediate ratification of RCEP urged 

The agreement entered into force in January this year for other countries. It is now in effect in Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. 

The seven foreign chambers noted that the RCEP would be the largest trade bloc in the world, representing 30% of the global gross domestic product. “The Philippines cannot afford to leave itself out of the bloc,” they said. — with report from The STAR / Loella Desiderio

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN THE PHILIPPINES

AUSTRALIAN-NEW ZEALAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES

BUSINESS CHAMBERS AND CLUBS

CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES

EUROPEAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES

JAPANESE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF THE PHILIPPINES INC

KOREAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES

PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS INC.

REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP

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