Philippines ratifies RCEP trade pact —NEDA chief

February 22, 2023 - 9:59 AM
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Cargo containers are seen at the port area along Manila bay. -- BW FILE PHOTO

 The Philippine senate late on Tuesday ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the country’s economic planning chief said.

The pact provides another engine for economic growth, Arsenio Balisacan said in a tweet, commending lawmakers for taking such a “bold and game-changing move”.

The Philippines is seeking to secure better market access for its key agricultural exports through RCEP, which was signed in 2020 and has been billed as potentially the world’s biggest free trade agreement, covering about a third of its population and 30% of its gross domestic product.

The idea of RCEP was hatched in 2012 and was seen as a way for China, the region’s biggest importer and exporter, to counter growing U.S. influence.

It also includes Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the nine other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc – Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

—Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty