The ASEAN Secretariat, together with the East Asia Business Council (EABC), hosted on 26 July the first of a series of webinars designed to help businesses better understand trade opportunities under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The ASEAN member states – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – plus Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand, signed the RCEP agreement on 15 November 2020.
The RCEP marked the ASEAN bloc’s biggest free trade pact to date, covering a market of 2.2 billion people with a combined size of US$26.2 trillion, or 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The RCEP deal is improving market access with tariffs and quotas eliminated in over 65 percent of goods traded and make business predictable with common rules of origin and transparent regulations. This will encourage firms to invest more in the region, including building supply chains and services, and to generate jobs, ASEAN said back in November.
The RCEP Agreement is expected to enter into force by early January 2022.
For the Agreement to enter into force, six signatories from the ASEAN Member States and three from the non-ASEAN Member States would need to deposit their Instrument of Ratification to the ASEAN Secretariat.
ASEAN is now looking to promote business opportunities under the RCEP with webinars, the first of which was “Unlocking RCEP for Business: Trade in Goods” held at the end of July 2021.
The webinar focused on the trade in goods aspect of the RCEP Agreement and discussed a number of important issues, including the schedule of tariff commitments, preferential tariff treatment, non-tariff measures in trade in goods, and trade remedies under RCEP.
“ASEAN’s economy is projected to grow by 4.0% this year and 5.2% next year. But this positive economic outlook is no reason for complacency as there is a risk of uneven growth which could exacerbate development gap and therefore, we need to ensure high utilisation rate of the RCEP Agreement among businesses in the region”, said the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi.