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Business chamber bats for regulatory streamlining to realize RCEP potential

THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said more government support is needed in the form of streamlined regulation and infrastructure if businesses are to maximize the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.

“In joining the RCEP, we have to work hard to maximize our gains from it. We have to improve our competitiveness by streamlining regulatory compliance and ensuring that government business services are in step with these streamlined procedures,” PCCI President George T. Barcelon said in a statement on Sunday.

“Inputs to production such as transport, logistics and power must be lowered to a competitive level at par with our ASEAN neighbors. Telecom and internet connectivity must be made available in all areas of the country,” he added.

RCEP officially took effect for the Philippines on June 2. The trade deal, touted as the world’s biggest free trade agreement, involves the ten ASEAN members, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Mr. Barcelon said work needs to be done in terms of product standards and quality laboratories if agriculture and manufacturing are to benefit from RCEP.

“For the Philippines, laboratories to test quality standards should be put up in areas that are readily accessible and available to producers,” Mr. Barcelon said.

“Governments of the RCEP member-countries must be able to work on reducing non-tariff barriers, or at least agree on a uniform quality standard for food and other manufactured products across the region,” he added.

Mr. Barcelon said the National Government, the departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry (DTI) should allocate more funding for the agriculture and food industries and to high-value crops amid the lowering of tariffs with the onset of RCEP.

“DTI’s important role in promoting our country as an investment destination and export promotion must be supported with more budget and resources,” Mr. Barcelon said.

“Further opening market access for export commodities and skilled professionals will have a beneficial effect across the economic sectors — from the agri-industry to manufacturing, to the services,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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