Two years on, the world’s largest free trade pact in terms of population and trade volume, has unleashed tremendous benefits for regional integration in the Asia-Pacific region and powered up economic recovery.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries — 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they cover about 30 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of global economic and trade volume.
The ASEAN remained China’s largest trading partner in the first 11 months of 2023, with total trade between the two sides reaching 5.8 trillion yuan (about 817 billion U.S. dollars), according to the General Administration of Customs.
During recent global economic challenges, the RCEP played a crucial role in stabilizing the economies of its member countries.
“It has helped member countries to boost post-pandemic recovery and sustainable long-term economic growth, contributing to enhancing regional peace, stability, harmony, development and prosperity,” said the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce’s Secretary of State and Spokesperson Penn Sovicheat.
Thanks to preferential tariffs under the RCEP agreement, Cambodia’s trade with other pact members has surged. Cambodia exported products worth 7.21 billion U.S. dollars to RCEP members in the first 11 months of 2023, up 27 percent from 5.67 billion dollars in the same period of 2022.
In the first 10 months of 2023, the total value of China-Malaysia bilateral trade reached 155.73 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 20.8 percent of China’s total trade with the ASEAN during this period.
The RCEP agreement covers various areas such as tariff reductions, trade facilitation, and the opening up of services and investment, highlighting the importance of multilateralism and an open world economy.
In November 2023, Chinese authorities issued 19,834 certificates of origin worth 568 million U.S. dollars under the RCEP agreement. The number of such certificates, issued to 3,434 enterprises, grew by 12.41 percent compared with the previous year, and these are expected to reduce tariffs for Chinese products by 9 million dollars in RCEP importing countries.
China remains committed to high-quality RCEP implementation to promote regional economic integration. Undoubtedly, the RCEP serves as a gateway allowing other member countries to also benefit from China’s development opportunities.
In 2024, the continued success of this free trade pact will serve as a steadfast pillar, offering stability and certainty amid global economic recovery and challenges. The sustained dividends of this pact are sure to persist.