China takes lead in ratifying RCEP

Three new international sea routes are opened at Qingdao Port, east China's Shandong Province, Jan. 19, 2021. The new routes link Qingdao Port with regions and countries along the Belt and Road and with partner countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). (Photo by Zhang Jingang/People's Daily)

China has taken the lead in ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, said Yu Benlin, director-general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Monday.

With the ratification by at least six ASEAN member states and three Non-ASEAN members, the agreement will be effective among these countries. So far, Thailand has also ratified the agreement.

It is reported that all parties concerned are proactively pushing for the agreement to take effect. They are planning to ratify the agreement before the end of this year and push for it to become effective on Jan. 1, 2022.

Once the RCEP takes effect, countries involved will immediately reduce tariffs according to it, fulfill their commitment of opening investment in the service sector, and implement the rules in all areas of the pact.

The MOFCOM and other relevant authorities have arranged a total of 701 binding obligations involving China under the RCEP, and completed preparations for the implementation of 613 items, or 87 percent of the total. Preparations for the remaining items are expected to be completed before the RCEP’s implementation, and China will be able to entirely fulfill its obligations when the agreement becomes effective, said Yu.

The RCEP was officially signed on Nov. 15, 2020. It features the largest participating population, the most diversified membership structures, and the greatest potential for development in the world. Its 15 member countries have a total population of 2.27 billion and a total GDP of $26 trillion. Their combined exports stand at $5.2 trillion, accounting for around 30 percent of the world’s total.

It is believed by the international society that the RCEP has a huge market potential and will vigorously drive regional and global growth. According to estimate by Peterson Institute for International Economics, the RCEP is expected to drive a net increase of $519 billion in exports and $186 billion in national income for its members each year by 2030.

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged international trade and investment into a big slide, throwing the world economy into a severe recession. Under such background, the commitments made by RCEP members to lower tariffs, open markets, and reduce barriers will significantly vitalize the flow of commodities, technologies, services, personnel and capital. This will not only forcefully promote regional economic recovery, but also inject positive energy into the global cooperation on COVID-19 and the world economy.

Jurin Laksanawisit, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister said that the signing of the RCEP indicates that a huge integrated market covering 1/3 of the world economy will be formed, which will guarantee its members better connection and wider mutual opening-up. The pact will generate huge development potential and revitalize the world’s confidence in free trade.

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