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HomeNationalPhilippine lawmakers have ratified the entry into the world's largest trade pact...

Philippine lawmakers have ratified the entry into the world’s largest trade pact – the World MIGMG News

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MANILA: Philippine lawmakers on Tuesday approved the country’s entry into the world’s largest free trade bloc, with supporters saying it would boost investment and jobs but detractors warning it could hurt farmers.

The regional comprehensive economic partnership includes 10 Southeast Asian economies along with China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, with members accounting for about 30 percent of global gross domestic product.

Launched in 2012, the agreement was signed in November 2020 and entered into force in January 2022, with most member states ratifying the pact.

The agreement to cut tariffs and open trade in services does not include the United States and is seen as a coup for China in expanding its influence.

Before Tuesday’s overwhelming Senate approval, the Philippines was the last holdout on the trade deal.

President Ferdinand Marcos’ administration and business leaders lobbied the Senate to ratify the pact, citing benefits for local consumers, businesses and the broader economy. The pact should help reduce costs and make life easier for companies by allowing them to export products anywhere in the bloc without having to meet specific requirements for each country. Intellectual property is touched upon, but environmental protection and labor rights are not part of the agreement.

The Senate passed a resolution to ratify the deal late Tuesday by a 20-1 vote with one abstention.

“I think for us it’s a game changer,” Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Tuesday. “Foreign investors are looking for places where there are clear rules, especially trade facilitation, investment policies that are followed and not subject to change at any time,” Balisakan told reporters. “By being a member, we’re saying to the world, ‘We’re ready for this, we play by the rules of the game, and your investment is safe with us.’

The Makati Business Club said the pact will help Philippine companies expand overseas and accelerate job creation, adding that there are “adequate safeguards” to protect local industries. “We also believe that competition will result in better local players and better products and services for Filipinos,” it said. However, farm groups and some lawmakers have opposed the pact over fears it could lead to flooding of the Philippine market with agricultural imports.


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