HomeNewsRCEP disadvantageous for Philippine economy, says peasant group

RCEP disadvantageous for Philippine economy, says peasant group

Militant peasant organization has voiced concerns over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), which came into force last week in the Philippines.

Rafael Mariano, former secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform and chairman emeritus of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said the agreement is “disadvantageous and ill-fitting for the Philippine economy.” 

He said the majority of the Filipino population will be left behind while only the super-rich and big businesses will benefit from such free trade agreements.

Proponents claim that RCEP would enhance Philippine trade, foreign direct investments (FDI), market access, export competitiveness, income growth, and welfare gains. However, KMP raised several issues that remain unresolved.

One major concern is the potential harm to the local agricultural industry. While proponents argue that the agreement would not harm local products, certain agricultural goods, including fish fillet, onions, and corn, may face tariff elimination over the next 15 years. 

Mariano, who is the convenor of Bantay RCEP, said the country already faces an agricultural trade deficit, reaching US$8.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2022.

KMP also highlighted the potential loss of tariff revenues. A study by the Global Development Policy Center estimates that the Philippines may lose around US$58.2 million in tariff revenues due to RCEP concessions. 

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Additionally, the trade deficit in other goods, already at a three-year high of US$43.2 billion in 2021, is expected to widen further under RCEP, potentially by around US$264.0 million.

Concerns were also raised about potential amendments to domestic laws and the lack of provisions for labor and environmental standards. KMP expressed fears that labor rights violations and environmental destruction could worsen under the agreement.

The peasant group emphasized the need for a comprehensive transformational plan that prioritizes Philippine agriculture and national industrialization to achieve inclusive progress. Mariano argued that RCEP imposes further globalization mechanisms that have hindered the country’s development for decades.

The group called for the rejection of RCEP, asserting that the Philippines would not benefit from the agreement.

The group urged a departure from neoliberal globalization policies and advocated for an economic approach that focuses on the development of agriculture and national industrialization.

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