Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines (TCAP) and the Canned Sardines Association of the Philippine (CSAP) joined the call of business groups and associations nationwide for the Senate’s concurrence of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.
TCAP and CSAP Executive Director Francisco Buencamino, through letters for Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, urged the Senate’s concurrence on the ratification of the largest trade deal, citing the industry’s gains from the Agreement.
“Our inclusion in RCEP will be instrumental in helping the canning industry recover from the economic setbacks brought on by the global pandemic,” Buencamino wrote.
Furthermore, in his capacity as TCAP Executive Director, he wrote that “although the tuna industry does not tailor itself to be part of basic necessities food group, its contribution to gross national product (GNP) via its foreign currency export proceeds has always been meaningful for this Mindanao-based industry. The canned tuna industry stands to gain from RCEP via the expected increase in domestic demand resulting from the improved economic performance of key sectors such as manufacturing, the service sector and even agriculture due to access to markets as well as investments. Moreover, it will help the industry achieve equal footing with competitor countries such as Indonesia, Thailand Vietnam and Malaysia.”
For the sardine industry, Buencamino highlighted that the Agreement will help the industry be at par with our ASEAN neighbors such as Viet Nam and Thailand on sardine export. He also underscored the number of jobs the industry provides.
“A growing export base for the sardine industry will help keep prices for the domestic market more manageable and allow the category to continue to grow. The industry and its suppliers provide direct employment to at least 80,000 to 100,000 workers and impacts around 500,000 individuals directly,” he wrote.
Noting the safeguards and protection for food products and the agricultural sector that the RCEP agreement provides, Buencamino mentioned that the country may leverage from the Agreement through increased competitiveness in the food manufacturing industry, particularly the sardine industry.
The RCEP Agreement, signed by 15 signatory states, entered into force for 10 countries namely – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, Australia, China, Japan, and New Zealand on 01 January 2022. South Korea will implement the same on February 1. The RCEP Agreement was ratified by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last 2 September 2021 and is being deliberated by the Senate to secure concurrence.