RCEP will further destroy the economy
Peasant groups led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) expressed paramount opposition to the Philippines’ decision to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Senate ratified the treaty on February 23 with a vote of 22 in favor, one against and one abstention.
Agriculture will be one of the most affected sectors upon entry of RCEP as under the treaty, the Philippines will be obligated to remove tariffs on sensitive agricultural products. Claims by its proponents saying the country needs the treaty for free competition are false.
The Philippines’ backward and neglected agriculture is in no position to compete with imported commodities from countries which provide massive subsidies to their farmers. Presently, farmers are already deep in debt due to high costs of production. Farmgate prices are pulled down because of unimpeded importation, smuggling and manipulation of cartels in collusion with the ruling reactionary faction.
Decades of “free trade” have caused unprecedented damage to the country’s agriculture and industries. These sectors plunged deeper in crisis since the Philippines joined the World Trade Organization in the 1990s. Manufacturing has the smallest share in the country’s gross domestic product last year while agriculture dropped to its smallest in the country’s entire history.
Policies imposed by the WTO have killed many sectors in the industry and agriculture and have maintained the entire backward economy. This pushed programs in privatization, deregulation and liberalization on trade, products, services, agriculture and many others.
Since 1995, the country joined not less than 10 treaties on “free trade.” These include treaties with China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, ASEAN and Europe.