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Lopez orders restart of CPTPP study

Published January 3, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has directed to restart the study on the country’s potential participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

This was revealed by DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo, who said that the interest in the stalled CPTPP has been rekindled following the passage of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Rodolfo said that for the past three years, countries have focused their attention to the RCEP. Now, that the mega trade deal has been concluded, more countries are turning their attention to reviving the CPTPP, which partly lost its stamina when President Trump did not support the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) deal.

CPTPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The CPTPP was signed by the 11 countries on 8 March 2018 in Santiago, Chile.

“With the completion of RCEP, this gives us more resources to review all FTAs,” he said noting that the DTI Secretary has given a go ahead signal to restart the study on the Philippines’ potential membership in the CPTPP.

The CPTPP an ambitious FTA deal. It seeks to provide for almost complete liberalization of tariffs among the participants. Tariffs are retained in only a few highly sensitive areas. Initially, it aims to provide a single set of rules of origin, and allows content from all CPTPP countries to be ‘cumulated’. If a good has to have at least 70 percent ‘CPTPP content’ to qualify for preferential tariffs, for instance, that 70 percent can come from any combination of CPTPP countries.

Studies showed that the original TPP (including the US) would have been one of the world’s largest economic blocs, accounting for over 30 percent of world GDP. Thus, it was thought to have a high degree of influence over the rules of trade globally. Without the US, the CPTPP is now seen as less significant without the US. Upcoming US President Joe Biden has already hinted his support to this trade deal.