The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal is expected to affect industries other than agriculture, farmers warned, with the resulting wave of imports expected to wipe out manufacturing.
“Whatever industry we have will be lost to RCEP. Imports will further displace our local output since RCEP will eliminate tariffs on 93% of our industrial tariff lines,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) National Chairman Danilo Ramos said in a statement.
Mr. Ramos urged the government to instead prioritize the strengthening of domestic farming and fisheries production.
RCEP is a free trade deal involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia.
Last week, 16 senators signed the committee report on the bill signifying the chamber’s concurrence to joining RCEP.
According to Jayson H. Cainglet, executive director of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura w(SINAG), Thailand and Vietnam prepared their agricultral industry to compete before joining RCEP.
“Para huwag kang maiwan, ihanda mo yong sektor mo (To avoid being left behind, prepare your industries) Just look at these countries, hindi muna daanin sa pagpirma, unahan yan sa paghahanda ng sektor mo to compete globally (these countries did not sign the agreement to get their industries ready for global competition, they got their industries ready before signing) ,” he said in a briefing.
The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) said it supports the agreement which it believes “will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment.”
“The agriculture sector’s uncompetitiveness today lies more on the protectionist and heavy-handed approach of the government in regulating agriculture over the years,” the group said in a statement Monday.
“Turning the situation around requires reintroduction of free market principles, starting with freeing up the land market allow greater consolidation and achievement of scaled economies in our agricultural production systems,” it added.
Earlier this month, Senate President and RCEP Sponsor Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said his target for ratifying the agreement is before Congress goes on its Easter break. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera