Farmers make a final appeal to Senators to reject RCEP

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said the Philippines’ agriculture sector stands to lose the most under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreements.

“We appeal to our Senators to reject RCEP. The Senate is composed only of 24 individuals, but millions of Filipinos will be affected once RCEP is ratified. We appeal to our Senators to make a vote based on their conscience and consider the plight and situation of farmers, fishers, and small-scale producers. We are making this urgent and sincere appeal as the Senate is set to approve the RCEP tomorrow,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

“Whatever industry we have will be lost to RCEP. Imports will further displace our local output since RCEP will eliminate tariffs on 93% of our industrial tariff lines. This alone could result in massive job losses and bankruptcies of small and medium-scale enterprises.”

“As if the lessons of our membership to the World Trade Organization (WTO) are not enough, the Marcos Jr. presidency wants to approve RCEP to the detriment and disadvantage of Filipino farmers. Instead of protecting our local agriculture, the government will dive into RCEP without any safety nets and a back-up plan.”

“RCEP is not a fix-all solution to the problems of domestic agriculture. We will be joining RCEP in a disadvantaged position. Our annual agricultural trade deficit has ballooned to nearly $ 9 billion. Our export has not significantly expanded beyond traditional items like banana, pineapple, and coconut-based products. We have become a dumping ground for imports of almost all agricultural commodities – rice, corn, pork, chicken, fish, salt, onions, garlic, mung bean, peanuts, etc. Ano pang maibibigay at makukuha natin sa RCEP? Dehadong-dehado talaga dito ang mga magsasaka at lokal na prodyusers.”

“Filipinos, especially farmers, and fishers will never truly benefit from RCEP and similar one-sided free trade agreements. Instead of ratifying RCEP, we must prioritize the strengthening of local production and supporting our farmers, fishers, and local stakeholders to the fullest.”

“We cannot accept and allow further liberalization under RCEP. We have seen the catastrophic effects of globalization over the last four decades – our agriculture sector has been devastated and has fallen to its smallest share of GDP in history — 9.2% in 2019 and 9.6% in 2021. Agricultural growth averaged just 1.2% from 2017 to 2021, a far cry from the historical average of 3.8% since the end of World War 2.

KMP called on Senators to protect and promote Filipino agriculture and industries. “The government should only enter economic deals with countries based on equal footing and mutual cooperation to primarily benefit the Filipino people and the domestic economy. Our Senators must not be reckless and rash in approving RCEP.” ###

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