The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines asked the Senate to immediately ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement which entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022.
AmCham executive director Ebb Hinchliffe said the Philippines could not afford not to join RCEP as it would not be a good signal not only to foreign investors but to the whole Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“We see RCEP as a platform for our members to source cheaper local goods for production and manufacturing, as well as benefit the country’s vital sectors such as the creative sectors, financial services, research and development, IT-BPM, professional services, and energy, given the transparent, stable and predictable rules that the agreement provides,” said Hinchliffe.
The group said it was looking forward to the country’s participation in the RCEP accord and expressed commitment to working with the government in ensuring that the agreement would be fully utilized by both the Filipino and American business community, including the micro, small and medium enterprises.
AmCham welcomed RCEP’s complementation with existing government reforms to facilitate a more conducive business environment and growth in employment considering the ongoing pandemic.
“The entry into force of RCEP for the Philippines complements the country’s programs and policies for the resurgence of manufacturing sectors, including incentives provided for by the CREATE Act wherein in addition to the lowering of corporate income taxes additional tax incentives in the form of tax deductions are included which includes power, local materials, research and development, among others,” Hinchcliffe said.
He said the recent passage of the amendment to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act was also a good signal that the Philippines was working towards a more open, transparent and stable market in the region.
The agreement was approved by the President in September 2, 2021. AmCham expressed hope that the Senate would immediately concur the executive ratification of the agreement before end of the 18th Congress.
“We would like to emphasize the need for the Senate concurrence of RCEP as soon as possible in order for Philippine and American businesses based in the country to fully utilize the agreement and maximize its benefits. We already know that we are behind as the agreement was already implemented on 1 January 2022. We hope to see the country implement the agreement by early 2022,” Hinchliffe said.
Six ASEAN countries already ratified the agreement, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. There were also five non-ASEAN signatory states, including Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.