The Department of Trade and Industry underscored the key benefits accorded the Philippines as one of the 10 members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which came to force on June 2, 2023.
RCEP is expected to bring down preferential tariffs to 0 percent on a number of Philippine products within a span of 15 to 20 years as compared to regional free trade agreements the offers a range of 5 to 25 percent tariff on select Philippine tariff line.
“Usually when they hear of trade deals, what comes to mind is export-import, reduction in tariff. But there’s more to that. We also have to look at the other aspects of the trade deal, given that there are existing ASEAN + 1 FTAs. In terms of market access, there are set of tariff lines or products we were able to secure better market access. In particular with China, Japan and South Korea,” said Trade assistant secretary and head of the Bureau of International Trade Relations Allan Gepty in a briefing Friday.
He said that under RCEP, garments bound to South Korea would have an improved tariff concession of 0 percent compared to the ASEAN-Korean Free Trade Area of 5 percent.
He said while global sourcing is not allowed in existing FTAs with Japan, RCEP allows canning factories, including those in the Philippines, to globally source fish and export the produced canned tuna to RCEP countries.
RCEP also provides for improved tariff concessions to 0 percent for Philippine alcoholic beverage export to Korea such as beer, gin and rum as well as papaya and durian exports which will be effective in the next 15 years.
Tariff on preserved pineapples from the Philippines to Korea and China are also expected to drop to 0 percent in a period of 20 years under the RCEP.
One of the trade concessions RCEP secured for the Philippines is 0 tariff rate on inbound coffee exports to Japan in 16 years, compared to 10 to 12 percent tariff based on ASEAN-Japan Common Effective Partnership Agreement including Philippine chocolate, fruit cocktail and fruit juice exports to Japan.
Philippine coconut farmers can also export coconut water to China at a preferential of 0 percent compared to the ASEAN-China rate of 5 percent.
Gepty said the trade concessions under RCEP would benefit Philippine micro, small and medium enterprises.
He said that under RCEP, there would be enhanced market access or opportunities on services to Filipinos.
RCEP countries accounted for 30 percent of global gross domestic product and a third of total inward foreign direct investments as of 2022.
RCEP also enables the implementation of advanced customs procedures for participating countries, allowing for more efficient and streamlined trade within the region.