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RCEP Is Officially Signed! A Victory For Multilateralism And Free Trade!

Nov 15, 2020

On November 15, 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) jointly promoted by 15 countries was officially signed. This is not only a landmark achievement of East Asia regional cooperation, but also a victory for multilateralism and free trade.

The total population reached 2.27 billion, GDP reached 26 trillion US dollars, and total exports reached 5.2 trillion US dollars... The ten ASEAN countries and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand recently formally signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), which means About one-third of the global economy is expected to form an integrated market.

As the new crown pneumonia epidemic hits the world economy and trade protectionism and unilateralism are undercurrents, RCEP members are committed to promoting the development of free trade, multilateralism and regional economic integration, bringing new hope to the global economic recovery.

Eight years ago, ASEAN countries first advocated the launch of RCEP negotiations. Although they quickly received widespread response from member states, the journey has not been smooth. How to balance the large development gap among member states is the primary issue that all parties to RCEP need to resolve. According to the statistics of the International Monetary Organization in 2019, the gap between the highest and the lowest GDP per capita among RCEP member countries is more than 50 times. Countries have different perceptions and policy gaps in trade, investment, intellectual property and other fields, and their interests The concerns are also different.

For this reason, the RCEP negotiations have always centered on ASEAN, respected the "ASEAN approach", adopted consensus among all parties as an important step to follow, accorded differential treatment to the least developed countries, and fully accommodated the interests of all parties. It can be said that the RCEP is full of Asian wisdom from scratch, from initiation to signing, and this unprecedented success also shows the great power of Asian wisdom in responding to international economic and trade challenges.

As the world's largest free trade agreement, RCEP covers about one-third of the global population, and its economic volume and total trade account for about 30% of the global total. In the face of unilateralism and trade protectionism, especially the new crown pneumonia epidemic sweeping the world, the signing of the RCEP agreement will undoubtedly release a major signal that mankind will work together to overcome difficulties and jointly respond to challenges. As the RCEP leaders’ joint statement pointed out, “The signing of the RCEP agreement demonstrates our firm commitment to supporting economic recovery, inclusive development, increasing employment, and strengthening the regional supply chain. It also shows our support for an open, inclusive, Rules-based trade and investment arrangements. "Only unity and cooperation is the correct path choice for mankind to get rid of unilateralism and move towards world economic recovery.

This heavy agreement with 20 chapters has drawn up a beautiful blueprint for East Asian regional cooperation, especially East Asian economic and trade prosperity. The total number of zero-tariff products in trade in goods exceeds 90%. It supports the development of regional industrial chain supply chains, adopts new technologies to promote customs facilitation, and adopts a negative list to make investment access commitments, which greatly enhances the transparency of investment policies. Consumers, traders, investors, and creators can all find their own benefits. In other words, this comprehensive, modern, high-quality, and mutually beneficial agreement is a free trade agreement that all parties expect and benefit from. It will not only lead East Asia to achieve high-quality development, but the international market will also welcome a new RCEP. partner.

As a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order, China actively participates in and firmly supports the RCEP negotiation process. The other members of RCEP and China are important trading partners to each other, and the scale of trade accounts for 1/3 of China’s total foreign trade. It is conceivable that reaching this agreement will help China promote the establishment of a domestic and international dual cycle. New development pattern promoted. More importantly, the spirit of multilateralism and free trade conveyed by the RCEP agreement has brought together the confidence and confidence that China and other member states are not afraid of headwinds and stick to consensus. "The Tao is not alone, there must be neighbors." Despite the changes in the international situation, China has always moved forward side by side with like-minded people, and nothing can stop the development of China and the world.

From "the earth is round" to "the world is flat," miracles of development continue to emerge in the world of economic globalization on the road to the pursuit of a better life. I believe that in the near future, this largest free trade zone will also bring us even greater surprises.

[Source: People's Daily Review]