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Friday, April 12, 2024

DTI exec sees Senate ‘positively’ acting on RCEP ratification soon

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) remains optimistic that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be considered “positively” by the Senate, noting that senators have taken steps to finally deliberate on the trade deal.

“The Senate has read it (RCEP) into the records and has referred it to the Committee on Foreign Affairs,” Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said, partly in Filipino.

Rodolfo also noted that the Office of the President (OP) has already submitted President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s Instrument of Ratification, which he said is “very important” in the process of getting the regional trade deal ratified.

“We have been in constant coordination with the senators with respect to the RCEP and other [free trade agreements] FTAs that we are negotiating such as the PH-Korea FTA. Given the importance of the RCEP and the urgency, we remain optimistic that this will be considered positively by the Senate,” the Trade official stressed.

Moving forward, Rodolfo said the DTI will work with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations so that “we can respond to whatever questions that they may still have about the RCEP with the view towards facilitating the Senate concurrence to the ratification of the President.”

Rodolfo said the regional trade deal will “hopefully” be ratified by the first quarter of next year.

Last month, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said Marcos had reviewed and approved the regional trade deal. In fact, he said there was a Cabinet decision documented last October signifying the president’s support for the regional trade deal.

In plenary discussions last month, Senate leaders said they will give priority to tackling the trade deal as soon as it is formally endorsed to them by the Executive. Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri noted the Philippines is the only one in the Asean region that has not acceded to it.

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