MANILA - Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said economic managers have endorsed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte so he could certify it as urgent for the Senate's concurrence.
"We have asked the President to certify this as urgent -the ratification (of) the RCEP- so that we can fast track the ratification of RCEP this January. We have asked other secretaries of other departments, and the economic managers to jointly endorse this to the President. So now it's in the Office of the President," Lopez said during the webinar of Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. (CFBCI) Monday.
Duterte already ratified RCEP in September 2021 and since then, the documents were forwarded to the Senate for deliberation and its concurrence.
Lopez said the deliberation on RCEP in the Senate was further pushed through as the upper house has discussed and passed other urgent bills, including the 2022 national budget and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, among others.
RCEP, the trade deal of 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) together with its five free trade agreement (FTA) partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand -- was concluded in November 2020 after eight years of negotiations.
In 2021, the participating countries have been working with their respective governments for the ratification and concurrence of the RCEP for them to deposit the instruments of ratification.
RCEP entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022 for Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, making them the first to benefit from the world's largest FTA.
South Korea is expected to gain from RCEP benefits this coming February 1.
The agreement will enter into force 60 days after depositing the instrument of ratification.
"We are hoping that the Senate will soon ratify this RCEP and we are looking into this week (that) they ratify," Lopez added.
In a statement, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) urged the Senate to speed up discussions on the RCEP deal for businesses to tap greater market access and economic opportunities under this FTA.
"The business community hopes that the Senate will immediately concur (with) the ratification of RCEP. We definitely don't want to be left behind in this area. This is something that we need to take advantage of to help in our much-needed economic growth and recovery," PCCI president George Barcelon said. (PNA)