Senate finally ratifies RCEP

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Senate finally ratifies RCEP
Photo shows members of the Senate with government officials after ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade agreement on Feb 21, 2023. Photo from the National Economic and Development Authority.
  • The Senate ratifies the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on Feb 21
  • Senate Resolution No. 485 was approved on third and final reading, with 20 affirmative votes, 1 negative vote (Sen. Risa Hontiveros), and 1 abstention (Sen. Imee Marcos)
  • RCEP is a free trade agreement between the ten member ASEAN states and its five FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea)

The Senate has finally ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest regional trade bloc that aims to improve market access via the elimination of tariffs and quotas on a wide range of goods.

Senate Resolution No. 485 was approved on third and final reading, with 20 affirmative votes, 1 negative vote (Sen. Risa Hontiveros), and 1 abstention (Sen. Imee Marcos).

“The ratification of the RCEP will result in a more open, transparent, and predictable trade and investment environment, which will contribute to the Philippine economy’s growth. Deeper economic integration among RCEP member states will increase the country’s market access, attract investments, and create more jobs,” the Department of Finance said in a statement on Facebook after the pact’s ratification.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan tweeted: “Finally, the Philippine Senate has ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), providing another engine for growing the economy and making it part of rapidly rising Asia. We thank the Senate’s honorable members for taking this bold and game-changing move.”

Senate ratifies RCEP
Infographic from the Department of Finance.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its five FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea). It was signed on November 15, 2020 after years of negotiation that began in 2012.

ASEAN, trade partners sign historic RCEP pact

The Philippines was the last country to get onboard the mega trade deal.

RCEP covers a market of 2.2 billion people with a combined size of US$26.2 trillion or 30% of the world’s gross domestic product. The deal will improve market access with tariffs and quotas eliminated in over 65% of goods traded, and will make business predictable with common rules of origin and transparent regulations. This aims to encourage firms to invest more in the region, including building supply chains and services, and to generate jobs.

“RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for businesses in the East Asia region, given the fact that the 16 RCEP participating countries account for almost half of the world’s population; contribute about 30 per cent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports,” ASEAN said on its website.