Philippines hopes for more clarity on RCEP negotiations in upcoming meeting
The Philippines hopes there will be "more clarity" regarding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations during the ministerial meeting in Manila later this week.
In a press briefing at the sidelines of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting and Related Meetings in Pasay City on Friday, Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said the substantial conclusion of RCEP negotiations was one of the two "deliverables" of the Philippines which has yet to see progress.
The Philippines, as current chair of ASEAN, has set 11 deliverables, with "progress" on the nine.
"We hope more clarity, as I've mentioned earlier, on the modality for trade in goods. How many percent really? Up to what percent can the parties agree to in terms of eliminating tariffs upon entry into force and what to do with the remaining ones," Rodolfo said.
"And second, there will also be discussion in terms of services and investments on what you call on the value added elements that some parties are advocating," he added.
He noted that there are new personalities, such as the new Commerce Minister of India, who will be participating in the RCEP meeting on Sunday.
"We remain hopeful that it (RCEP negotiation) can be accelerated," Rodolfo added.
Earlier, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that RCEP participating countries were willing to include 90 to 92 percent of their goods under liberalization, except for one country which can offer only 80 percent of its commodities duty-free.
Aside from the Philippines, the nine other ASEAN countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, - and their dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan New Zealand and South Korea - have been pushing for the RCEP.
At the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting on Thursday, Rodolfo said ASEAN welcomed the progress in the implementation of the 11 Philippine economic deliverables.
"By the end of the meeting, the Philippines successfully secured nine out of 11," he said.
Among the deliverables include the adoption of ASEAN Seamless Trade Facilitation Indicators and the ASEAN Work Programme on Electronic Commerce 2017-2025, and the endorsement of the ASEAN Inclusive Business Framework. Celerina Monte/DMS