LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Department of Agriculture encourages agricultural farmers in the province to level up to the guidelines of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP.
In the dialogue held on October 25 this year with the officers of the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Area (LTVTA), representatives of the provincial executive, provincial and municipal legislative councils, and national and regional representatives of the Department of Agriculture (DA), DA Assistant Secretary for Policy, Research and Development Noel Padre explained that RCEP is a free trade agreement between the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including the Philippines agreed to implement lesser tariffs on products.
“The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP is a Free Trade Agreement between China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines where we offered a 92 percent FTA tariff for their products. Under RCEP we have given a lower duty-free to our partners as compared to the FTA on individual countries, but we were able to provide additional concessions on the number of products based on the tariff lines for them to agree to our offer of a lower tariff with vegetables not included in the improved tariff movements,” Padre said.
RCEP is a cooperative effort to open up wider product coverage, lower Regional Value Contract (RVC) thresholds, and longer transition periods for some goods. In the Philippines, the benefits granted by RCEP can be enjoyed by importers and exporters by following the guidelines under the Customs Memorandum Order.
The objective of the RCEP Agreement is to establish a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development.
Under RCEP, there are around 154 agricultural products excluded from its list for tariff identified as unbounded.
During the dialogue, Benguet Board Member Ruben Paoad reiterated the need for the province to be informed on the specific list of exempted or unbounded agricultural products for the provincial government and farmers of Benguet to adjust to the guidelines of RCEP.
“We would like to know the effect of Executive Order 25, particularly on Annex A to F which adjusts the tariffs on imported products mentioned specifically on our carrots, cabbage, potato, tomato, and other vegetable products identified as semi-temperate vegetables, and are considered as unbounded under RCEP,” Paoad stated.
+Executive Order 25 recently signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. states the implementation of the Philippine schedule of tariffs commitments under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreements in modifying the rates of import duty on certain import articles for the purpose.
“Our tariff schedule will reflect the products, whatever our treatment is in our FTA, the EO will show our existing most favored nation applied tariff which will apply to our partner nations. We would like to clarify that RCEP is not as open compared to our individual FTA RCEP partners, we did not actually make any addition to our FTA,” Padre added.
For a better understanding of the stakeholders with regard to RCEP and its guidelines, DA-CAR Regional Technical Director for Operations Danilo Daguio suggested to Padre for DA-CAR to plan and schedule an information education dialogue, with the Assistant Secretary and other speakers from the DA Central Office to be the resource speaker by January 2024, which the Assistant Secretary agreed to.