15 Asia-Pacific countries sign RCEP, the world’s largest free trade area is here

On November 15, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was officially signed during the East Asian Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting. The free trade zone with the largest population, the most diverse member structure and the greatest development potential in the world was born. What benefits will the birth of the free trade area bring to member states? How will the members get along? Let’s find out together.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed by 15 members of the ten ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. The total population, economic volume, and trade volume account for about 30% of the global total. more than $25 trillion. Covering two major markets with the most growth potential in the world, one is the Chinese market with a population of 1.4 billion, and the other is the ASEAN market with a population of more than 600 million.

In addition to its large scale, RCEP is also more inclusive, covering not only issues such as trade in goods, dispute settlement, trade in services, and investment, but also new issues such as intellectual property, digital trade, finance, and telecommunications.

For example, in terms of trade in goods, after the agreement takes effect, more than 90% of the trade in goods in the region will eventually achieve zero tariffs, and the main goal is to reduce tariffs to zero immediately and to zero within 10 years. ; In terms of trade in services, all 15 parties have made commitments on opening up that are higher than their respective “10+1” free trade agreements. China’s commitment to opening up trade in services has reached the highest level in existing free trade agreements; in terms of investment, all 15 parties have adopted a negative list to make high-level commitments to investment in five non-service sectors including manufacturing and agriculture. For the first time, my country has made commitments in the field of investment in the form of a negative list under a free trade agreement.

It is also a reciprocal agreement. RCEP members include both developed and developing countries, as well as some least developed countries, with huge differences in economic systems, development levels, and scale. The agreement takes into account the demands of all parties to the greatest extent possible, grants differential treatment to the least developed countries, and sets up two chapters on SMEs and economic and technological cooperation to promote balanced development and shared results within the region.

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