The world’s largest free trade zone is here!
According to sources from the Ministry of Commerce, on November 15th, the Fourth Leaders’ Meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was held via video. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the meeting.
At the meeting, under the witness of leaders of 15 countries, trade ministers of various countries signed the RCEP agreement. Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan signed the agreement on behalf of the Chinese government. This marks the official start of the free trade zone with the largest population, the largest economic and trade scale and the most development potential in the world.
An interpretation article released by the Ministry of Commerce on the same day stated that RCEP is currently the world’s largest free trade zone. In 2019, the total population of the 15 member states of RCEP reached 2.27 billion, GDP reached 26 trillion U.S. dollars, and total exports reached 5.2 trillion U.S. dollars, each accounting for about 30% of the global total. The completion of the RCEP free trade zone means that about one-third of the world’s economy will form an integrated market. RCEP includes major countries in East Asia and will inject strong impetus into regional and global economic growth.
The article titled “Interpretation of one of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) by the responsible comrades of the International Department of the Ministry of Commerce” stated that RCEP will become an important platform for my country to expand its opening to the outside world in the new era, and will help my country form a domestic and international dual The circular new development pattern will also significantly increase the “gold content” of my country’s free trade zone network.
Yuan Bo, deputy director and researcher of the Institute of Asian Studies of the Ministry of Commerce, said in an interview with a reporter from China Business News: “RCEP is a regional trade agreement reached by 15 countries. The adoption of unified economic, trade and investment rules will help China’s Enterprises in various countries carry out efficient layout of supply chains and industrial chains in the region. For example, they can combine the advantages of China, Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand and other industrial development to choose the most advantageous and most in line with the laws of market economy or Layout in the most competitive place.”
Shen Minghui, secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and East Asia Cooperation Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the CBN reporter that RCEP regards trade liberalization and facilitation as its top priority: not only in terms of traditional tariff concessions, but also in rules of origin and trade. There have been great changes in the topic of facilitation, which has a strong effect on maintaining the stability of the entire regional supply chain.
▲The signing ceremony of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) taken in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, on November 15. Xinhua News Agency
High-quality and mutually beneficial regional free trade agreements
The above interpretation article of the Department of International Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce stated that RCEP was initiated by ASEAN in 2012 and has undergone 8 years and 31 rounds of formal negotiations. Especially since this year, RCEP members have overcome the huge difficulties caused by the new crown pneumonia epidemic and fully completed market access negotiations. , And completed the legal review of more than 14,000 pages of texts, and finally signed the agreement as scheduled during the leaders’ meeting. This is the most important achievement in the construction of East Asian economic integration in the past 20 years.
The article stated that on the whole, RCEP is a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial large-scale regional free trade agreement.
The RCEP agreement consists of a preamble, 20 chapters (including: initial clauses and general definitions, trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, trade remedies, services Trade, temporary movement of natural persons, investment, intellectual property, e-commerce, competition, small and medium-sized enterprises, economic and technical cooperation, government procurement, general terms and exceptions, institutional terms, dispute settlement, final terms chapters), 4 annexes to the market access commitment form (Including: tariff commitment table, service specific commitment table, investment reservation and non-conforming measures commitment table, and natural person temporary movement specific commitment table) composition.
Shen Minghui told CBN reporters that in these chapters, RCEP’s measures on trade facilitation are particularly worth mentioning. This is one of the highlights of RCEP.
For example, in these chapters, for fresh or agricultural products such as seafood, fruits and vegetables, all members must facilitate their entry within 6 hours to achieve fast customs clearance. He explained that for another example, RCEP has greatly simplified In the use of the rules of origin, you can freely and conveniently choose one of the rules of origin, that is, you can use the tariff classification change standard (CTC) or the regional value component (RVC) principle.
The national conditions and economic development of the countries participating in the RCEP negotiations are quite different. In terms of the rules of origin, there are the above-mentioned CTC and RVC labels. Generally, countries with large differences in national conditions will have different opinions on which standard to choose. This method greatly increases the flexibility of the host country’s enterprises when using the principle of origin, without adding too much additional cost.
Facilitation in trade and investment is also reflected in a series of other measures. For example, in the field of telecommunications, there are a series of such practices that can be used without changing phone numbers when roaming internationally.
In this regard, Shen Minghui explained that these provisions have a strong effect on maintaining the stability of the entire regional supply chain: the epidemic has led to many things that were convenient for customs clearance. Now various inspection and quarantine procedures have to be added, and the efficiency is average. The above provisions of RCEP are strengthening Cooperation in the era of the epidemic and maintaining the stability of the supply chain in the entire region have strong practical and contemporary significance.