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Department of Trade Negotiations pushes ahead utilisation of RCEP privileges

Bangkok Post - 18 September 2020

Department of Trade Negotiations pushes ahead utilisation of RCEP privileges

As the 15 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) members are preparing to sign an agreement this November in Vietnam, the Department of Trade Negotiations is explaining how to make the most of RCEP and deal advantageously with its impacts in terms of competition among farmers, entrepreneurs, and civil society. The department revealed that Thailand will have greater opportunities to export agricultural products, gain largerbenefits from rules of origin, enjoy more opportunities to invest overseas, and attract more foreign investment.

Mrs. Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said, “After the eight RCEP Ministers, including from ASEAN, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand, met through a teleconference and concluded negotiations on all outstanding issues, the department is in the process of proposing to the Cabinet to consider approving Thailand to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. The ministers confirmed that they are ready to sign the agreement at the 4th RCEP Summit in November 2020 during the ASEAN Summit in Vietnam.”

“Meanwhile, the department has continued to explain utilisation of the RCEP agreement so all sectors, including government agencies, business sectors, farmers, SMEs, academics, and civil society, can acknowledge and foresee opportunities. In so doing, they will be prepared to take advantage of the agreement and adapt to the impacts and competition that may occur after RCEP has been implemented. The department has already held a large public hearing in Bangkok, following those in Khon Kaen and Songkhla provinces.”

“The RCEP Agreement is the largest free trade agreement (FTA) in the world,” Mrs. Auramon said. “It comprises 16 member countries, including 10 ASEAN countries and six partners: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India. It has a combined population of nearly 3.6 billion, accounting for 48.1 percent of the world population.In 2019, the combined gross domestic products of RCEP member countries were valued over US$28.5 trillion, accounting for 32.7 percent of the world’s GDP. Combined trade was worth over US$11.2 trillion, accounting for 29.5 percent of world trade value.”

“More than half of Thailand’s trade and investment relies on the large markets of RCEP members. Thailand and 16 RCEP member countries have a total trade value of US$280 billion, accounting for 59.5 percent of Thailand’s total trade. Thailand’s export value to RCEP member states is worth over US$140 billion, accounting for 57 percent of Thai exports to the world’s markets.”

“As for the benefits that Thailand will receive from the RCEP, member countries, including China, Japan, and South Korea, will open their markets by reducing import tariffs on agricultural products. The reduction is larger than those offered by the current FTAs that Thailand has with these countries. Products covered include processed and unprocessed vegetables and fruits, vegetable oil, cereal and flour preparations, tapioca starch, tapioca flour, fishery products, processed food, fruit juice, and others. Therefore, Thai farmers and entrepreneurs can take advantage of the agreement to expand exports and increase quality standards of Thai agricultural products and processed agricultural products to be competitive in the world market.”

“Moreover, Thai entrepreneurs can use the same rules of origin for exporting to 16 countries from the original FTA agreement with different rules of origin. Having the same rules of origin under the RCEP will allow entrepreneurs to opt for various sources of raw materials whether from countries inside or outside RCEP.”

“RCEP will also attract foreign investment into Thailand. It will also create opportunities for Thai entrepreneurs to invest in RCEP member countries in sectors in which Thailand has high potential. These include construction, health-related businesses, businesses related to film and entertainment, audio and video editing techniques, animation production, and retail. However, Thai entrepreneurs have to study the regulations and subtleties of each country to prepare them to do business efficiently.”

 source: Bangkok Post