PHL supports India’s inclusion in RCEP block

Reuters

The Philippines backs India’s admission to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trading bloc, from which New Delhi withdrew in 2019, with the Trade and Industry Ministry saying the bloc could benefitIft to have another big market as a member.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Allan B. Gepty said in a webinar on Monday that encouraging India to rejoin RCEP would boost economies belonging to the trading bloc.

“With the size of India, which has around 1.3 billion people, this would indisputably make RCEP the largest trading bloc in the world. And in terms of comparative advantage, noting that all economic activity has now turned to India, that will really not only strengthen economic integration here in the region, but the ability of the economic bloc to influence and shape the rules of international trade,” Mr. Gepty said.

“RCEP parties would also benefitIft of India’s inclusion in terms of improved market access, increased participation in regional supply chains and even accelerated economic growth in the region,” he added.

India pulled out of RCEP negotiations in November 2019, fearing it would have to open its market to cheap Chinese imports following the phasing out of tariffs and the effect on its farmers and workers.

RCEP is a trade agreement that began to take effect in 11 countries on January 1. Members of the trading bloc are Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

According to Gepty, India’s re-entry will help balance the interests of major economies within RCEP.

“Given the size of the Indian economy, I would say that its participation in RCEP will also contribute to the balance of interests and also of power within the free trade zone,” he said, making reference to the bloc’s other oversized economy, China.

“I don’t think we can adopt domestic policies right now. We have to accept globalization. We can only improve the rules and take advantage of the opportunities they provide,” he added.

The Philippines has yet to join RCEP as the Senate was unable to agree before adjourning on February 3 for the election break. President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the RCEP agreement on September 2. Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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