By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINES is likely to lose investment opportunities to other Southeast Asian countries if it continues to delay the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said on Thursday.
“Any delay in ratification means that we run the risk of losing some export markets and the good opportunities in new investments as they shift to participating countries who are already part of the RCEP system,” he said in a Viber message to reporters.
“There may be lost opportunities in investments, and jobs for our people, investments such as in agribusiness, manufacturing for exports, and services.”
The Trade chief made the statement after the Senate on Wednesday failed to give its concurrence to the RCEP before it adjourned sine die despite repeated appeals from economic managers and business groups.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III said it would be up to President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to endorse the mega-trade deal to the Senate when the 19th Congress opens next month.
“The 19th Congress (will) wait for (Office of the President) to endorse the said treaty again to the Senate,” he said in a mobile message to BusinessWorld.
Mr. Pimentel said there was no vote on the RCEP since only 17 senators were present during plenary on Wednesday. The trade deal needed 16 affirmative votes to be ratified by the Senate.
“Two senators are abroad, one quarantined, two went out. In short, many members were not on the floor. We didn’t want to deprive them the chance to participate and or vote on the measure,” he said.
The RCEP, which entered into force on Jan. 1, is a trade agreement involving Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Philippines is one of three countries that have not ratified the RCEP, along with ASEAN members…
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