The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will consult stakeholders on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the ASEAN – Hong Kong, China FTA (AHKFTA) on 14 April 2016. “Our goal is to help our country maintain its competitive advantage among ASEAN member states. One way to do this is to raise awareness on our trade engagements and engage our stakeholders to take full advantage of the vast opportunities arising from further regional integration in the Asia-Pacific region,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said.

The proposed RCEP, which is composed of ASEAN and its dialogue partners (Australia, New Zealand, India, Korea, Japan and China), accounts for nearly30 percent of the world’s trade, and is projected to have a combined gross domestic product of about $21.2 trillion. On the other hand, AHKFTA, which refers to ASEAN’s engagement with Hong Kong, China, offers the Philippines market access to an estimated 60 million tourists a year.

The RCEP and AHKFTA consultations fall under the One Country, One Voice (OCOV) program, the government’s consultative mechanism for stakeholder participation in trade policy formulation. OCOV, launched by the DTI in 2010, engages stakeholders to identify policy gaps and relevant interventions and support the development of government’s positions and appropriate strategies for negotiating current and possible future trade engagements.

Rodolfo said that the consultation would likewise be a venue to urge the private sector to maximize the gains provided by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which marked its milestone launching last 31 December 2015.

The AEC aims for free flow of trade and investments in the region. AEC is a regional market of nearly 600 million people with a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.4 trillion.To date, the Philippines hasmanaged to achieve a 92.1% implementation rate by complying with 466 out of 506 measures in the AEC scorecard.

Rodolfo said that while the country is generally making good progress in increasing country competitiveness, the consultation is necessary to communicate both the opportunities and challenges of our trade engagements in ASEAN. “Our role is to further guide businesses, government agencies, and civil society in analyzing and strategizing their business directions and initiatives in ASEAN,” he added.

Since 2010, the DTI has been undertaking a number of national and regional consultation sessions on key and pressing trade-related issues such as preparations for the review of the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA), the proposed Philippines-European Union Free Trade Agreement (PH-EU FTA), the Philippine – European Free Trade Association FTA (PH-EFTA FTA), the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (EU-GSP+), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).