Signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement affirmed its significance to each country’s economy and regional trade-investment activities following the signing of the pact on November 15.
The Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Cheong Wa Dae described the RCEP signing as a “core result” of President Moon Jae-in administration’s New Southern Policy aimed at improving strategic ties with Southeast Asian nations and also an opportunity for the RoK to become a “pacesetting” economic power
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) and Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh wave at other countries’ delegates at the signing ceremony for the RCEP agreement (Photo: VNA)
The same day, addressing the virtual 4th RCEP Summit hosted by Vietnam, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that the inking of the RCEP is not only a breakthrough achievement in East Asia cooperation, but also a victory of multilateralism and free trade.
Dr Jeffrey Wilson, a Research Director at the Perth USAsia Centre in Australia, noted that the RCEP will be the most important regional trade agreement ever signed and projected to change the region’s economic and strategic maps.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted by the Malaysian News Agency (Bernama) as saying that the RCEP will serve as an important instrument for economic recovery, and will encourage the reopening of markets while ensuring uninterrupted supply chains.
Addressing the 4th RCEP Summit, Muhyiddin said the RCEP agreement is critical for the region’s response in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only cost lives but has also battered economies.
Coupled with the challenges to the global trading system due to regional tensions, it is imperative for ASEAN to continue to sustain competitiveness as a region, the PM stressed.
According to the Malaysian leader, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are the way forward to help sustain competitiveness through promotion of international trade, encouraging investments and ensuring supply of talent.
As such, the RCEP will be the main vehicle through which regional economic integration within ASEAN and its dialogue partners can be enhanced.
The PM went on to say that it is indeed significant that this partnership has been negotiated based on the different levels of economic development of the 15 participating countries, to ensure a mutually beneficial FTA for all.
He is of the view that this is the touchstone for the future growth and vibrancy of the regional economic collaboration.
Malaysia, together with ASEAN and FTA partners, would want to demonstrate to the world that even with varying levels of economic development, 15 countries can come together to create a trade pact that will be mutually beneficial, not only for the business community, but also for the people’s livelihood, the PM noted.
On another note, Muhyiddin said Malaysia recognises the difficulties India is currently facing, and wishes to express its continuous support and welcome India’s accession to the RCEP in the future.
The RCEP involves 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as the RoK, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and their combined gross domestic product accounts for a third of the world’s total.
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