RCEP to boost regional trade, investment amid pandemic: Philippine trade chief

Tuesday, 17 Nov, 2020

Pushed over the finish line by China, RCEP brings together 2.2 billion people in 15 countries including advanced economies like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand and weaker players like Cambodia and Laos. Officials said the deal leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc.

The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time. "Otherwise, without RCEP, the GDP would decrease by 0.07 percent", Agus said. Biden has said he would prioritize first strengthening American worker competitiveness and infrastructure before considering entering trade deals.

"The signing is extremely significant toward realizing a free and open worldwide economic order" at a time when some countries are becoming inward-looking due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, said Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Keidanren, Japan's largest business lobby. The Philippines has active free trade agreements with several APEC countries.

It took eight years of concerted engagement, and almost four dozen multilateral negotiations, to entertain all aspects of RCEP's mutually beneficial free-trade mechanism, and treat consensus-building as an evolving endeavor.

However, analysts agree that the trade pact, which covers 30 per cent of the global economy, is far more strategically significant than providing a direct economic impact, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

That leaves space for Biden to get like-minded partners like the European Union and Japan, who care more about these issues, onboard for more sustainable trade pacts.

Trade negotiators in New Delhi have maintained that India would continue to avoid any trade pact that involves preferential duty market access with China, with whom it has had a spike in border issues.

"At the same time, the RCEP will help to promote trade flow and attract more investments with members to the region", Vanak said. This would have adversely affected India's internal economy. "It is a lot harder to diversify markets to achieve value".

"This deal will further integrate Australian exporters into a booming part of the globe, with RCEP countries making up almost 30 per cent of world GDP and the world´s population", Minister Birmingham said.

One exciting factor in the historic importance of the RCEP, and an indispensable key to its success, is the central role of China, the world's world's second-largest economy and largest nation, with a population of 1.4 billion and increasingly affluent consumers. The deal creates one of the world's largest free trade blocs, with the noticeable absence of the US.

Under the Trump administration, the United States has recurrently used trade as a way to incentivize or deter Chinese behavior.

The remaining 11 nations amended the text of the agreement and the renamed CPTPP was signed in March 2018.

India balked at exposing its farmers and factories to more foreign competition.

Experts are eager to see increasing trade tensions between China and Australia be remedied by the new trade agreement. Automakers fear imports from across the region.