RCEP seen to boost PH agricultural exports
The recently ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement is projected to boost the country’s agricultural exports, officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Saturday.
Speaking at a news forum, Maria Tisha dela Rosa, chief of the macro-economic policy division at the DA’s Policy Research Service, said RCEP would basically improve the agricultural exports of the country, allaying fears of some quarters that it would liberalize the agricultural sector even more.
“Definitely it is not something that we have to fear because it will not liberalize the agri sector more than what it is now. Because when we were negotiating RCEP, we did not lower the tariff to more than what is provided under the existing trade regime,” she said.
The DA official cited that even before the ratification of the RCEP, the Philippines already had a “liberalized” trading regime when it came to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“Instead, we would like to look at RCEP as a venue to strengthen our exports because we can get benefits or concessions from it that will help our agri exporters,” Dela Rosa added.
The farmer and fisherfolk sectors should also not worry because the government has already adopted some safety nets, such as placing under an exclusion list so-called sensitive products of the country such as meat, rice, corn and sugar, among others, she added.
Bianca Pearl Sykimte, assistant director at the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau said the RCEP would make the production cost globally competitive.
“Not everything we needed in producing food are right in the Philippines. Example, there are cheaper fertilizer from other places so under RCEP, we can get cheaper fertilizer from other countries and then our production cost will be competitive,” she said.
Based on the study by the International Trade Center based in Geneva, Switzerland, Sykimte said the Philippines has a $27.8 billion “unrealized export potential” to the RCEP countries in the next five years.
The DA, according to Dela Rosa, is also partnering with the DTI in promoting Philippine exports.
“More than export, the DA is in charge of production. There’s no food to export if there’s no [local] production. So that’s what the DA is doing now, to give the proper support [to agriculture],” she said.
Increasing production of food intended for export will also create more jobs for Filipinos, Dela Rosa added.