The International Trade Council acknowledges the decisions made by the Philippines and New Zealand to reject the inclusion of Myanmar in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade agreement. This move broadens international opposition to the military takeover in Myanmar, which has led to violence, democratic setbacks, and trade and diplomatic sanctions.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. informed his Southeast Asian counterparts during a meeting in Cambodia that the Philippines would not accept Myanmar's accession to the RCEP, a 15-nation free trade agreement that took effect on January 1st. The Philippines' decision echoes New Zealand's stance, which has refused to recognize Myanmar's papers for joining the trade bloc due to its opposition to the military-led government.
It remains unclear whether other RCEP countries, including all 10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, Australia, and South Korea, will follow suit and ultimately bar Myanmar from the trading bloc.
The International Trade Council recognizes that the decisions by the Philippines and New Zealand emphasize the growing impact of the Myanmar crisis on economic and diplomatic spheres. The Council supports efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, while also respecting each nation's right to determine their own trade and diplomatic relationships.