The Senate has named the members of the oversight committee who will watch the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest free trade agreement ratified by senators Monday.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda will lead the RCEP oversight committee with Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, Senators Imee Marcos, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Mark Villar, Sonny Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, Jinggoy Estrada, and Alan Peter Cayetano as members.
The oversight committee will guarantee the smooth implementation of the free trade agreement. It will also monitor the support programs of government agencies for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); science and technology; trade; and agriculture sectors.
With the Senate’s ratification, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri noted the Philippines can now finally join the fourteen other countries that have begun to implement the agreement.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means, meanwhile said that while he supports the RCEP “as a free trader,” he believes that the agreement could “accelerate the hollowing out of our domestic agriculture and manufacturing sectors.”
Salceda added, however, that “the impacts on our country would be worse by not joining.”
“The RCEP’s most significant change is really easier rules-of-origin procedures. Any input from any member country of the RCEP is considered domestic input,” the lawmaker said.
“As such, even when the inputs are, say, from a mix of China, Vietnam, and Thailand for complex goods, as long as they total 40 percent of the value of the good, they will qualify for preferential tariffs – 97 percent of which ATIGA (the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement) already reduced to zero.”
Salceda added RCEP will only accelerate the integration of the economies and their value-chains of the country’s Asian neighbors.
In a related development, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (GPCCI) welcomes the inclusion of the Philippines in the RCEP.
“The inclusion of the Philippines in RCEP would allow the country to finally access economic benefits and will put us on equal footing with our neighbors in the ASEAN region as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand,” GPCCI President Stefan Schmitz said.
GPCCI is the official representation of German businesses in the Philippines; a bilateral membership organization with around 300 members; and a service provider to companies in their market entry and expansion.