The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is playing a crucial role in boosting the ASEAN economic integration into the world economy, Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak has said.
“The world’s largest free trade agreement will bolster resilient, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region and resist the trend of anti-globalization and protectionism,” he said in a speech at the launch of a book titled “RCEP: Part I: Geo-Political, Geo-Economic and Legal Analysis” in Phnom Penh recently.
The RCEP free trade deal comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Sorasak said the RCEP, covering 2.3 billion people, or 30 percent of the world’s population, contributed 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars, about 30 percent of global GDP, and accounted for 28 percent of global trade in goods and services, and 32.5 percent of global foreign direct investment inflows.
He said the mega-trade pact will help Cambodia graduate from its least-developed country status by 2027 and achieve its goals of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income nation by 2050.
According to the minister, Cambodia’s total export to the RCEP member countries amounted to 4.59 billion dollars during the January-July period this year, a year-on-year increase of 21 percent.
Entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, RCEP member countries have committed to eliminating tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods traded within the RCEP.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, a think-tank under the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the RCEP has contributed to stabilizing its members’ economies, especially amidst this ongoing global economic recession and uncertainty.
“The RCEP has great potential to create tangible benefits for all of its members, and ASEAN will reap long-term benefits from this trade deal by integrating further into global supply chains,” he told Xinhua on Monday. “I believe that the RCEP will help transform the ASEAN region into a new engine of growth in Asia.”
Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said the RCEP has not only boosted ASEAN’s economy, but also helped narrow the development gap between the rich and poor ASEAN countries.
“It holds huge potential for all member countries to expand their trade and investment ties and to quicken their economic recovery in the post-pandemic era,” he told Xinhua on Monday.
Matthews said the RCEP provides new business and employment opportunities, strengthens supply chains in the region, and promotes the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the regional value chains and production hubs.
“It has given an opportunity for SMEs and startups to reach the larger economic marketplaces,” he said.
“Thanks to the lower tariffs, trade barriers, and improved market access, I think that trade among ASEAN members and with the RCEP dialogue partners has increased multiple times,” he added.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News