Despite the pandemic and protectionist headwinds battering the global economy, history is about to be made with the signing of the fifteen-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement this weekend.
RCEP is a significant addition to the global economic system. Its members include Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the ten Southeast Asian members of ASEAN. By population and economic size, it will be the largest trade agreement ever signed, and accounts for almost a third of world GDP.
Perth USAsia Centre’s Research Director Dr Jeffrey Wilson said the agreement would provide a solid foundation for the Indo-Pacific’s post-COVID recovery, and ensure the region bounces back faster than other parts of the world.
“Now more than ever, trade and investment is important for Australia and the wider Indo-Pacific. This Agreement will pave the way for new opportunities, much-needed as our region makes its way through COVID-19, and into the economic recovery stage” Dr Wilson said.
The Agreement provides Australian exporters and importers with a single set of trade rules for all Indo-Pacific countries, whilst linking with existing World Trade Organisation principles.
“In 2020, Australian exporters have been repeatedly hit by politically-motivated trade sanctions imposed by the Chinese Government. By providing a region-wide trade agreement, RCEP will more tightly bind China into a rules-based trade system for the Indo-Pacific”
“One of the other benefits of the Agreement is its support for global value chains. By providing a region-wide set of trade rules, it unlocks opportunities for the development of value chains in agriculture, manufacturing and many service sectors” Dr Wilson said.
“The global economy is currently in an unprecedented economic decline, with the World Trade Organisation predicting trade will be down between 13 and 23 percent this year due to value chains interruptions and rising protectionism. RCEP has been under negotiation for eight years, and now more than ever, its framework is needed,” Dr Wilson said.
The RCEP will be signed virtually at the 37th ASEAN Summit under the chairmanship of Vietnam. For more information about the Agreement, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at https://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/negotiations/rcep
For further information, please contact:
Ms Tammy Wayne-Elliot
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T: 0414 428 440