President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has approved a proposed Executive Order operationalizing the country's tariff commitments under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Thursday.
"During its fifth meeting today, the NEDA board, chaired by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., approved two landmark measures that will advance our efforts toward achieving deep social and economic change leading to a prosperous, inclusive, and resilient Philippines," Balisacan said at a Palace press briefing.
"The first one was the approval of the EO, executive order, operationalizing the Philippines' tariff commitment under the RCEP agreement," added Balisacan.
The RCEP is a free trade agreement first floated in August 2012, covering members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.
Asked when the President will sign the executive order, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the President could ink the EO "anytime now."
"Anytime now, but the effectivity will be on the second of June 2023. So anytime between now and the second of June. But hopefully earlier so that Customs can also prepare their administrative order," Pascual said.
Pascual said once the EO is issued, it shall be the basis of the Bureau of Customs for the issuance of Customs administrative order which shall be distributed to all ports to allow the implementation of the preferential tariffs on e-ports from RCEP member countries.
"This section provides the President shall, upon recommendation of the NEDA Board, modify import duties, including any necessary change in classification, and other import restrictions as required appropriate to carry out and promote foreign trade with other countries," Pascual explained.
"The thing is many of the tariffs will be kept at the rates we have already committed under the ASEAN+1. But the added advantage of RCEP is that we were able to gain concessions from the four countries that are the plus one of ASEAN," Balisacan said.—VAL, GMA Integrated News