Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is open about the Philippines joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), but this should be after making sure the local agriculture sector is competitive enough with other countries.
“Sa aking pananaw [In my view], let’s have another look at it because the RCEP is a very fine thing,” he said in a Thursday briefing, adding that Philippine agriculture should be “sufficiently robust to take on the competition that the opening of the markets will cause.”
RCEP is touted to make it easier for member-states to import and export across the region. Its members include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand.
RCEP aims to establish a modern, comprehensive and mutually-beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth.
President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the trade deal in September, and is just awaiting the same from the Senate.
Marcos said RCEP still needs further study to make sure that the country’s own farmers will not be at the disadvantage. Once this is ensured then the deal can be ratified, he added.
“Pagka ni-ratify na natin ’yan, dapat handa na ’yung system natin na makipag-compete dahil kung hindi talaga makapag-compete, masasapawan sila, mawawala ’yung ating local (harvest) and panay na lang ang import natin and we don’t want that,” he explained.
[Translation: Once it is ratified, the system should be ready to compete because if it is not ready, they will be overlapped, our local harvest will be lost, and will rely on imports and we do not want that.]
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he agrees that RCEP needs further interpellations and review. While the next steps for the trade deal is still unsure, he said the Senate will prepare if this will be discussed in the remaining sessions of Congress.