BIMP-Eaga rebound backed; RCEP’s ratification pushed


THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) affirmed its support for the recovery of the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP–Eaga) region.

Apart from economic growth, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said the ADB’s support includes infrastructure development and regional cooperation.

ADB said it is working with BIMP–Eaga governments to identify transformative recovery strategies and manage regional cooperation in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

“ADB is honored to serve as BIMP–Eaga’s regional development advisor. We know that when adversity strikes, coordinated action will help your countries endure the crisis and build for a strong and lasting recovery,” said Asakawa.

“ADB supports BIMP–Eaga’s work, aligned with Asean revitalization, to maintain open markets, strengthen supply chains, support vibrant economic zones, and promote digital integration,” he added.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, ADB has provided $875 million through its Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility to help Indonesia and the Philippines procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines.

ADB provided an additional $1.5 billion to each country in quick-disbursing loans to support their Covid-19 response. ADB support includes infrastructure connectivity projects in locations key to regional cooperation in Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Manila-based multilateral development bank said its work aligned with the BIMP–Eaga Vision 2025 and its focus on connectivity, economic corridor development, tourism, and environment.

ADB has provided assistance to enhance project management systems, institutional capacity, and cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and subregions.

RCEP ratification

Meanwhile, leaders of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Participating Countries are pushing for the immediate ratification and entry into force of the agreement.

President Duterte said ratifying and enforcing the RCEP will allow economies in the region, including the Philippines, to recover faster from the pandemic.

The RCEP countries believe the regional trade agreement will create a stable and robust business environment but because it is viewed as an important tool in the economic recovery efforts of the region.

“To accelerate post pandemic recovery, we must further strengthen our economic ties through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” Duterte said.

Once implemented, the RCEP will enhance market access of substantially all the goods in the region, which will boost Philippine exports, and at the same time can provide cheaper goods for production and manufacturing.

The RCEP will also create efficient and convenient ways of trading, transparent rules, clear mechanism for resolving trade issues and concerns, and inclusion of MSMEs into the global value chain.

Based on 2020 data, the RCEP free trade area accounts for 29 percent of the world’s trade, 29 percent of the world’s GDP, 33 percent of global inward Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), 47 percent of global outward FDI, and 2.3 billion population.

“Being part of an FTA is not only about market access, but a big attraction as well for investors to locate in the country. Thus, RCEP should be viewed as a platform to encourage more investments and service providers in vital sectors such as manufacturing, creative sectors, financial services, research and development, IT-BPO, professional services, and energy, among others,” Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

In a recent meeting, Lopez said Duterte, together with other leaders, discussed the importance of cooperation in ensuring medical supplies for Public Health Emergencies, collaboration in vaccine production, and the implementation of ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework.

According to him, Duterte also called for the acceleration of the development of Circular Economy and Blue Economy models for a sustainable future and the need to future-proof the region by building smart cities and utilizing digital technology.

RCEP is an Asean-led Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which consolidates its existing regional FTAs with Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand into  a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement.

It provides an open, inclusive and rules-based trading system that can serve as a major platform to deepen and broaden economic integration in the region.

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