Press Release
February 21, 2023

Zubiri: RCEP projected to create 1.4M jobs

On Monday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda defended the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement during the period of interpellations, elaborating on the expected benefits of the agreement to the country, should the Senate grant its concurrence to its ratification.

On the question of jobs to be generated under the agreement, Zubiri said that RCEP is expected to foster the creation of 1.4 million jobs by 2031-- a conservative estimate cited from a study conducted by Dr. Caesar Cororaton.

A breakdown of this figure projects the creation of 308,000 jobs in agriculture, 77,000 jobs in industries, and 991,000 in services.

He also reported that non-participation in the RCEP is expected to lead to a -0.26 percent decrease in real GDP, according to a study by Dr. Francis Quimba. Participation, meanwhile, is seen to lead to a 2.02 percent increase in GDP.

"Maiiwanan tayo sa foreign direct investments. Magkakaroon ng trade diversion. Kung hindi tayo sasali sa RCEP, sa ibang bansa pupunta ang investors, dahil mas malawak na ang kanilang merkado," Zubiri explained.

"Sa damit, tayo dati ang pinakamalaking garment industry sa rehiyon. Ngayon Made in Cambodia, Made in Laos na--lalo na ngayong nasa RCEP sila. Mas mura na ang kanilang materials under RCEP, at mas mataas ang tariff rate natin. These are lost opportunities for us," he said. "Pero kaya natin silang habulin, with RCEP."

He also reiterated that protections will remain in place for the agriculture sector.

"Excluded po ang major Philippine agriculture products sa RCEP. Hindi nagalaw at hindi bababa ang taripa nitong mga ito."

The excluded agricultural goods from RCEP are swine meat; edible offal of bovine, swine, sheep, goats, horses, asses, and mules; poultry meat; potatoes; onions, garlic, and other alliaceous vegetables; cabbages, cauliflowers and similar edible brassicas; carrots; cassava; lettuce; sweet potatoes; coffee and instant coffee; corn; rice; cereal; grains; other prepared or preserved meat; tunas in airtight containers; sugar; and feed for animals.

Apart from the exclusion of these products from tariff reductions, Zubiri also stressed that RCEP will open export opportunities for our farmers, particularly in the fisheries sector and the processed produce sector.

The Senate resolution on the concurrence to the ratification of RCEP comes with a set of guidelines for the implementation of the agreement.

"We're never going to abandon the agriculture sector, and we will have a Senate Special Oversight Committee to make sure that our agencies are following the guidelines and fulfilling their mandate to our farmers, fisherfolk, and other sectors," he promised.

As part of the guidelines, the Senate will direct the Department of Agriculture to oversee the full and successful implementation of its banner programs, including the National Rice Program, the National Corn Program, the National High Value Crops Development Program, and the National Livestock Program.

"I've been in public service for a while, and what frustrates us most is that we have good initiatives, pero hindi naiimplement sa ground. Sayang," he said. "So in the oversight committee that we will set up, we will make sure that we will monitor the implementation of these programs."

"At may mekanismo po ang ating oppositors. Kung hindi nakakarating sa kanila ang pondo, magsumbong sila sa atin at pagagalitan natin ang ating mga ahensiya, and we will ask them to account for every peso and centavo come budget season."

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