Home News ASEAN THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT

THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT

THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT
THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT

A momentous event was witnessed by the 15 participating countries (10 ASEAN Member States, Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand) at the virtual signing held on 15th November during the 37th ASEAN Summit.   
The largest regional trade agreement will improve market access with tariffs and quotas eliminated in over 65% of goods traded among many mutual benefits.  

The countries, including Thailand, agreed to form the world’s largest free trade bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the coronavirus pandemic. 

อาเซียนร่วม 5 ประเทศพันธมิตรลงนาม RCEP ข้อตกลงการค้าใหญ่ที่สุดในโลก |  ThaiPublica

In the online ceremony, leaders of RCEP countries took turns standing behind their trade ministers who, one by one, signed copies of the agreement, which they then showed triumphantly to the cameras. 

“RCEP will soon be ratified by signatory countries and take effect, contributing to the post-COVID pandemic economic recovery,” said Nguyen Xuan Phuc, prime minister of Vietnam, which hosted the ceremony as ASEAN chair. 

RECP will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time. It will account for 30 percent of the global economy, 30 percent of the global population and reach 2.2 billion consumers. 

RCEP “will help reduce or remove tariffs on industrial and agricultural products and set out rules for data transmission,” said Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department at Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. 

Thailand ready to join world's largest free trade agreement on Sunday

In addition to the 10 ASEAN nations, the accord includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States. Officials said the accord leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc. 

“After eight years of negotiating with blood, sweat and tears, we have finally come to the moment where we will seal the RCEP Agreement,” Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, said in a statement ahead of the ceremony. 

The deal sends a signal that RCEP countries have chosen “to open our markets instead of resorting to protectionist measures during this difficult time,” he said. 

The accord is a coup for China, by far the biggest market in the region with more than 1.3 billion people, allowing Beijing to cast itself as a “champion of globalisation and multilateral cooperation” and giving it greater influence over rules governing regional trade, Gareth Leather, senior Asian economist for Capital Economics, said in a report. 

The US is absent from RCEP and the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that US President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office. This leaves the world’s biggest economy out of two trade groups that span the fastest-growing region on earth. 

Now that Trump’s opponent Joe Biden has been declared president-elect, the region is watching to see how US policy on trade and other issues will evolve. 

Analysts are sceptical Biden will push hard to rejoin the trans-Pacific trade pact or to roll back many of the US trade sanctions imposed on China by the Trump administration given the widespread frustration with Beijing’s trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft. 

Ahead of Sunday’s RCEP “special summit” meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would firmly convey his government’s support for “broadening a free and fair economic zone, including a possibility of India’s future return to the deal and hope to gain support from the other countries”. 

The RCEP agreement is loose enough to stretch to fit the disparate needs of member countries as diverse as Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Unlike the European Union, it does not establish unified standards on labour and the environment or commit countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies. 

But it does set rules for trade that will facilitate investment and other business within the region, Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Centre, said in a report for the Asia Society, an organisation that promotes US-Asia understanding. 

“RCEP, therefore, is a much-needed platform for the Indo-Pacific’s post-COVID recovery,” he wrote. 

The pact will take effect once enough participating countries ratify the agreement domestically within the next two years. 

ASEAN united to sign RCEP within 2020

ASEAN members include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.  

Joint Leaders’ Statement 

“We, the Heads of State/Government of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam – Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand, met virtually on 15 November 2020, on the occasion of the 4th RCEP Summit. 

We were pleased to witness the signing of the RCEP Agreement, which comes at a time when the world is confronted with the unprecedented challenge brought about by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic.  

In light of the adverse impact of the pandemic on our economies, and our people’s livelihood and well-being, the signing of the RCEP Agreement demonstrates our strong commitment to supporting economic recovery, inclusive development, job creation and strengthening regional supply chains as well as our support for an open, inclusive, rules-based trade and investment arrangement.  

We acknowledge that the RCEP Agreement is critical for our region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will play an important role in building the region’s resilience through inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery process.”. 

THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT
THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT
THAILAND JOINS ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TRADE AGREEMENT
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