Foreign Brief - 30 January 2021
Brunei to host the RCEP Interim Joint Committee meeting
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Interim Joint Committee is to hold a virtual meeting today.
RCEP, inaugurated last November, is the largest international trading bloc in the world and is composed of the ten Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. This meeting will be the first joint committee meeting since the formal signing of the RCEP agreement. The four committees that comprise the Joint Committee, covering goods, services and investment, sustainable growth and the business environment, will attend.
Signatories still need to ratify the agreement within their respective legislatures before RCEP enters into force. While major policies are unlikely to be decided on during this meeting, expect discussion on rules and norms surrounding the addition of future members to the bloc. As of yet, no accession procedures have been determined by the Joint Committee. However, there is an 18-month waiting period post-entry in force for new members to join. China, the informal leader of the bloc, will press to establish these procedures so that Hong Kong can join RCEP immediately after the waiting period. The fifteen RCEP signatories represent 71% of Hong Kong’s total trade in goods.