By Jessica Fenol | ABS-CBN News
MANILA - President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Thursday said the ratification of the country's participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) should be reexamined to ensure that it won't diminish the competitiveness of local farmers and the agriculture sector.
The Philippines has yet to ratify its participation in the RCEP, which is a free trade deal among the 10 ASEAN members as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The free trade deal will allow more agricultural products from other countries to enter the Philippines with zero tariffs.
Marcos said that while he supports trade, he still has an issue with RCEP.
"The only stumbling block there is that it is all very well to trade if you are in a competitive position. I do not know that our agriculture sector is sufficiently robust to take on the competition that the opening of markets will cost," Marcos Jr said in a briefing.
"So let's have a look at it again and make sure na hindi naman malulugi ang ating agriculture sector…Pagaralan natin ng mabuti, pag kaya ng magsasaka at kaya natin mag compete then ratify natin," he added.
(Let's make sure that our agriculture sector won't lose. Let's examine it extensively. If our farmers can compete, then we ratify)
The incoming chief executive vowed to "beef up" the agriculture sector and boost food security. He said food supply is critical, especially during times of crisis.
"We want to have sufficient food supply for the Philippines in case of any crisis, we should really learn our lessons from the pandemic. Pag may crisis na ganyan ramram ng tao kulang ang pagkain," Marcos Jr said.
(If there are crisis, the people immediately feel the shortage)
Stakeholders and several business groups have opposing comments on RCEP. Some have said that the participation in the free trade deal would boost economic growth while some said it would negatively impact the local agricultural sector as well as local farmers.