16 countries to convene in KL to discuss FTA-A A +A
Thursday, December 5, 2013
THE 16-member states of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are set to converge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the third round of negotiation of the free trade agreement (FTA) late January, next month.
In an interview at the sidelines of FTA Information Campaign at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao Thursday, Raymond Astillas, senior trade and industry development specialist of the Bureau of International Trade Relations (BITR), said the negotiation will explore at least three areas of trade such as goods, services, and investments.
The 16 economies are half-way in the series of negotiations before they conclude and set to take the RCEP off the ground by year 2015.
RCEP is comprised of 10 Asean countries and six FTA partners such as Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, and Korea.
Although, Astillas refused to divulge what had been discussed in the first two rounds of negotiations among the 16 states, he assured it will make a bridge for an easier trade among the signatories.
Just like in other established FTAs, traders of two or more partner nations enjoy a zero tarriff, provided that there is a certificate of origin secured by either exporter or importer from their respective regulatory body like a Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Philippines, for instance.
For her part Rafaelita Castro, assistant chief for Japan/Australasia Desk of the Bureau of Export Trade Promotions (BETP), said not all companies in the country are ready for the FTA.
She added that not all exporters avail of the benefits of FTA for lack of information, the reason why they strengthen their campaign on the matter.
In fact, the number of exporters "reaping the benefits" of FTA, specifically in Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga) is growing from 20 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2011 of around 8,000 exporters.
Among the export winners of the Philippines are electronics, furniture and agriculture, but the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is also joining the league where it is now ahead of India when it comes to voice.
"We're part of the global chain. We supply the semiconductors, gumagawa tayo ng parts," Castro said.
She added that what they intend to happen is a faster foreign market intrusion, but the local market here will have to open up before possibly going global.
Astillas said FTA can lower the barriers of foreign markets, which can boost trade among the RCEP member-states.
"Ang connectivity ng bawat bansa should be part of the enhancement as well kasi kung well-connected tayo mas mabilis mag-trade, mas mabilis mag-move and goods ang services," he said,
Philippines has already seven established FTAs, but if RCEP be pushed through, it will be the biggest so far for the country.
"The more you integrate, the more you enhance trade," he said.
He added that the country is also planning to get in the loop with the members of Transpacific Partnership (TPP), but declined to give further detail for lack of authority to speak on the matter. The years of negotiations on the TPP now also near conclusion.
"Japan just joined the negotiation this year," he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 06, 2013.