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RCEP to take effect in PHL by June — official

THE REGIONAL Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will likely take effect for the Philippines around June, a Trade official said on Tuesday.

This as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) aims to deposit the instrument of ratification for the Philippines’ participation in the mega-trade deal by April 3.

“On or before April 3, we plan to deposit the instrument of ratification. We still have to deposit the instrument of ratification and then you’ll have to count 60 days from deposit and then the RCEP will take effect for the Philippines,” Trade Assistant Secretary and Philippines’ lead negotiator for RCEP Allan B. Gepty told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Makati City.

The Philippines was the last participating country to ratify the RCEP after the Senate gave its concurrence on Feb. 21. The ratification faced delays due to concerns over the safeguards for the local agriculture sector.   

Mr. Gepty said the RCEP will take effect in the Philippines around June if the instrument of ratification is sent to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary-general by April 3.

Asked about the delay, Mr. Gepty said the Philippines has yet to finish the domestic preparations needed before the RCEP’s implementation. Previously, the DTI said the RCEP is expected to take effect around May. 

“When RCEP takes effect, we should be done with the necessary issuances. We have to make all the necessary issuances like executive order (EO) and Customs memorandum order so that we will have no problems in the implementation part. The preparations should jibe,” he added.

Mr. Gepty previously said President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. will issue an EO that will contain the schedule of the country’s tariff commitments. This EO will be used by the Bureau of Customs as a basis to apply the tariffs under the RCEP.   

Billed as the world’s biggest free trade agreement (FTA), the RCEP involves a third of the global economy as the participating countries include the members of ASEAN, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The RCEP officially entered into force on Jan. 1 last year.   

RCEP participating countries are expected to have increased trade among RCEP participants as the FTA allows minimal to zero restrictions on quantity, tariffs, or import taxes.

“Philippine exporters gain a market of 15 countries representing nearly 30% of the world’s population, economy, and trade. RCEP gains outweigh the losses. Among others, we need to take advantage of the enhanced trade facilitation provisions that make cross-border trade simpler and faster,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual previously said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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