DTI: PHL weighing impact of joining Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership accord


THE Philippines is now in the process of evaluating the impact of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), according to Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual.

“We are now in the process of evaluating the impact of joining the Agreement,” Pascual told the BusinessMirror in a Viber message on Friday, noting that the Philippines remains interested in joining the regional trade bloc.

The Trade chief said the process includes evaluation of the country’s existing “legal regime” with regard to commitments or obligations of CPTPP parties.

But in the meantime, Pascual said, “we already made an initial inquiry on the process of accession.”

Citing estimates by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a BusinessMirror report last Thursday noted that if the Philippines joins the CPTPP, the country’s gains could reach $15 billion by 2027.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand have already indicated their interest to join the regional trade bloc but are not yet members to date. Of the three Asean economies, Thailand is expected to see the biggest gain—$20 billion—while Indonesia, the least gain at $11 billion.

According to ADB, joining the CPTPP will improve the Philippines’s global reach, with exports seen growing by $27 million, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which the country recently ratified, could bring in an addition of $12 billion.

CPTPP is a free-trade agreement (FTA) among Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. It was signed on March 8, 2018, in Santiago, Chile.

In 2021, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo confirmed that the Philippines signified interest to join the CPTPP and wrote to New Zealand, the depository country of the FTA.

Rodolfo then identified five target export products that the DTI would like to secure in the deal: automotive parts, garments, agricultural commodities, processed agricultural products and plant-based meat alternatives, and electronics.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported last Friday that the United Kingdom will join the 11-nation free-trade bloc, making them “the first new member since its creation, in a bid to strengthen economic ties with new partners following divorce from the European Union.”

According to the Bloomberg report, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement, “Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the center of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies, as the first new nation and first European country to join.”

He added that it represented “real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms.”

“Membership will eventually ensure zero-tariff trade across a range of import and export sectors, with greater UK access to Mexico, Canada and Japan for dairy exports, and a boost to Britain’s automotive and alcohol industries, particularly through the export of spirits to Malaysia,” the Bloomberg report stated.

“Tariffs will also be reduced on imports of bananas from Peru, rice from Vietnam, crab sticks from Singapore and palm oil from Malaysia,” the report also noted.