Regional trade pact RCEP to take effect on Jan 1; Australia, New Zealand ratify deal

Mr Phil Twyford said that businesses will be able to take advantage of RCEP's opportunities from early next year. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (REUTERS, XINHUA) - Australia has joined New Zealand to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, ministers for both nations said on Wednesday (Nov 3).

The deal is the world's largest trade pact, representing about 30 per cent of the global population and gross domestic product.

The RCEP will take effect on Jan 1, setting common rules around trade in goods and services, intellectual property, e-commerce and competition.

Minister for Trade & Industry Gan Kim Yong on his Linkedin account wrote on Wednesday: "I am happy to share that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement will enter into force on 1 Jan 2022, for the ten RCEP participating countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Lao PDR, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) which have ratified the agreement.

"This is good news for Singapore businesses, who will be able to utilise the agreement for trade with the above countries, and enjoy greater cost and time savings, transparency and certainty. Apart from additional preferential access in some markets, businesses will also benefit from streamlined rules of origin, enjoy simplified customs procedures, enhanced trade facilitation measures, and enhanced investment rules and disciplines.

"This major milestone signals our shared commitment to greater regional economic integration and shared interest in free and open trade and investment. I look forward to the expeditious entry into force of the RCEP for the remaining signatory states."

Mr Phil Twyford, New Zealand's minister of state for trade and export growth, said in a separate statement: "Businesses will be able to take advantage of RCEP's opportunities from early next year."

Australian Foreign Affairs minister Marise Payne in her separate statement said the deal would strengthen the country's trade ties with Asean, signalling its commitment to an Asean-led regional economic architecture.

Thailand also ratified the agreement on Oct 28, its Commerce Minister said on Monday, adding that the deal would boost the country's trade to an area that accounted for 53 per cent of last year's exports.

Meanwhile, China and Japan have also completed ratifications of the pact.

Signed in November last year, the RCEP is a mega trade deal between 10 Asean member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, plus five other economies, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Ratifications from at least six Asean member countries and three of the other five member countries are needed for the trade deal to take effect.

Once in effect, the deal will eliminate tariffs on as much as 90 per cent of goods traded between its signatories over the next 20 years.

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