Legarda convenes gov’t agencies ahead of RCEP effectivity in PH

April 19, 2023

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda leads the Senate Special Oversight Committee on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement’s first organizational meeting and briefing on Tuesday to discuss the plans and preparations of concerned government agencies ahead of RCEP’s effectivity on June 2, 2023.

Attended by the implementing government agencies of RCEP and various stakeholders, Legarda said, “With the creation of the Special Oversight Committee, we hope to address deficiencies and gaps in our governance, mobilize communities through bottom-up efforts, work to reduce scarcity toward productive efficiency, and determine effective utilization of our natural assets and our budgets.”

After the Senate concurred on the ratification of the mega-trade deal among 15 countries in the Asia Pacific region last February 21, 2023, the Philippines deposited its Instrument of Ratification of the RCEP Agreement to the Secretary-General of ASEAN on April 3, 2023.

Sixty (60) days thereafter, or on June 2, 2023, the Agreement will enter into force in the Philippines.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) outlined its plans for the effective implementation of RCEP. These include the conduct of a Trade Education and Advocacy Campaign designed for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and large enterprises to become more strategic and precise in availing of the terms and conditions provided by RCEP and other free trade agreements.

The program also boasts of a Value Chain Network, which provides MSMEs the capacity to export and the opportunity to engage with companies linked to the global value chain.

On the part of the Department of Agriculture (DA), it has issued guidelines for operating units to ensure that their programs, activities, and projects will support the Senate Resolution on RCEP, especially introducing improvements on modernization programs.

The DA will also enhance its existing information system which provides details on production, prices, and importation related to agriculture systems. The system will now cover not only livestock products but all agri-fisheries commodities.

Stakeholders from the agriculture and labor sector were also present during the hearing and aired their grievances regarding the lack of consultation, delays, and inefficiency in the implementation of government service.

For its part, the DA addressed the issues stating that pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine Committee for Agriculture and Fishery (PCAF)-Committee on International Trade, four core groups are established that will look into concerns on smuggling, trade negotiations, assessment of free trade agreements, and export promotion to improve public-private partnerships.

The four core groups will aid in monitoring issues and concerns affecting food supply, demand, and prices for the agriculture and fisheries sector.

Legarda herself suggested programs for the effective implementation of RCEP such as the launching of a strong campaign to support Philippine-made products, regional consultations, and monitoring of the country’s progress to determine the effect of the implementation of RCEP.

In line with the monitoring, the Senator asked the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to submit quarterly reports and projections on job generation, effects of interventions in the agriculture sector, and other effects of RCEP in the economy.

“We convene the Special Oversight Committee on RCEP with the fervent hope that, with our mandates and duties to perform, we ensure to work on measures and policies to protect the interest of our country and the people,” Legarda said. (end)