Australia, New Zealand ratify regional free trade pact

Australia, New Zealand ratify regional free trade pact

RCEP strengthens trade ties with Asean

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MELBOURNE: Australia and New Zealand have ratified the world's biggest free trade deal among southeast Asian nations and their major trading partners, ministers for both nations said on Wednesday.

The deal is the world's largest trade pact, representing about 30% of the global population and gross domestic product.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), will take effect on Jan 1, setting common rules around trade in goods and services, intellectual property, e-commerce and competition.

Pact participants are the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their five free trade agreement partners: Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

"Businesses will be able to take advantage of RCEP's opportunities from early next year," Phil Twyford, New Zealand's minister of state for trade and export growth, said in a statement.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a separate statement the deal would strengthen the country’s trade ties with Asean, signalling its commitment to an Asean-led regional economic architecture.

The RCEP is designed to remove tariffs on 91% of goods, and standardise rules on investment, intellectual property and e-commerce among other trade practices.

It also aims to promote optimisation of the supply chains within the free trade zone.

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