PH to pursue more free trade deals

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    With the aim of ratifying the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within the Duterte administration, the Philippines will continue to pursue bilateral and multilateral free trade deals that would gain further market access.

    “The Philippines continues to pursue bilateral free trade agreements. We are right now in talks with Korea and …hopefully we’d like to push with the US (United States) as well as the EU (European Union),” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez at the Horasis Asia 2020 Virtual Meeting yesterday.

    Lopez added: ”We’re opening up our economy in the same way that we would like also to have increased market access for our country to benefit from all these FTAs that we perceive (w)ould be mutually beneficial arrangements.”

    For Lopez, this is the same drive that led the Philippines to actively pursue RCEP which took 8 years to negotiate.

    In noting the significance of RCEP to the country’s global supply chain, Lopez said 50 percent of the country’s exports go to RCEP countries and 68 percent of imports are from these countries as well.

    He added the Philippines will push sectors where it has competitive advantage: information technology-business process management and electronics, the country’s top exports and other manufacturing activities like aerospace and copper as well as emerging sectors like health-related products and services due to the pandemic.

    Meanwhile,Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty yesterday expressed hope the Philippines will be one of the countries to immediately benefit from the RCEP.

    At the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum yesterday, Gepty said the Philippines targets to finish the entire ratification process of the RCEP within the Duterte administration “to be one of the countries that is able to deposit the instrument of approval so that once RCEP becomes effective, we will benefit as soon as possible.”

    Following the signing of RCEP on November 18, the agreement will have to be ratified by President Duterte. The deal will then be forwarded to the Senate where two-thirds of the senators should concur.