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Philippines to benefit from RCEP

20/09/2021    17

Ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will benefit the Philippines and help the country recover, speakers told an online forum organized by The Manila Times.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. Signed just last November, it will have to be ratified by six Asean members and three non-Asean signatories to take effect.

To date, only Singapore, China, and Japan have done so.

"The Philippine ratification of the RCEP will greatly boost our economic activity and economic recovery because this will enhance Philippine businesses' participation in the global value chains," Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc President Henry Lim Bon Liong said on Wednesday.

"Philippine micro, small and medium industries shall benefit from our joining the RCEP," he added.

Tourism - described as a Philippine advantage - will also gain, Liong said, as will the information technology and artificial intelligence sectors that can count on "a lot of good, young, dynamic graduates...".

Ruben Pascual, secretary general of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agreed: "The biggest area that I'm excited about is in the area of information technology. The biggest advantage right now, the edge of the Philippines ... is a very young population of 75 million working population and about 60 percent of that are under 25 years."

Still, he noted the existence of a "very severe skills gap and this is an area where our partner countries [could help], that's why we value very much the partnership of the PCCI with [Chinese firm] Huawei, which has offered to help us teach MSMEs and students on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, applications development."

"It is important that the Philippines explore partnerships on the upscaling of skills that are ready for the fourth industrial revolution. The Philippines has a 75 million people working population and an additional 600,000 every year enter the workforce. So, partnerships with countries including China [are important] so that the young working population will be available to be of service or to work not only in the Philippines but in other countries."

Pascual said the Philippines also needed to "embrace innovation in all facets" and amend its industrial policy, pointing out that the country was losing its traditional export advantages.

"We have lost our export ground and I am afraid that in a free trading regime, we will lose more unless we really move fast. We are losing bananas to Ecuador. We have lost garments to Cambodia, and we are losing our top exports electronic sectors to Vietnam," he noted.

Source: Manila Times