Straits Times - 28 October 2021
China, Brunei call for RCEP trade agreement’s early entry into force at Asean meeting
Leaders of China and Brunei on Wednesday (Oct 27) called for bringing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) into force at an early date.
They made the remarks at the virtual 24th Asean Plus Three leaders’ meeting between the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), and China, Japan and South Korea.
Signed on Nov 15, 2020, the RCEP is a mega trade deal between the 10 Asean member states and Asean’s five free trade agreement partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the virtual meeting on Wednesday that the RCEP will arrive at a threshold of entry into force soon, and the countries need to speed up their work for it to take effect as early as possible.
The countries also need to continue to advance free trade and pursue higher-level integration, Li said.
Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah expressed the view at the meeting that the timely entry into force and implementation of the RCEP agreement will accelerate regional economic recovery efforts, according to a statement from the Brunei government.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, completed procedures of the RCEP ratification in April this year. Brunei ratified the agreement earlier this month, becoming the sixth signatory to ratify the RCEP, after Thailand, Singapore, China, Japan and Cambodia.
RCEP signatories have expressed the intention of ratifying the agreement before the end of this year for its entry into force from Jan 1, 2022.
The ratification by at least six of the 10 Asean signatories and three of the five non-Asean signatories is needed for the trade deal to take effect.
Once in effect, the deal will eliminate tariffs on as much as 90 per cent of goods traded between its signatories over the next 20 years.
Established in 1967, Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Brunei is the Asean chair for 2021.