Malaysia: RCEP regional trade pact comes into force

Malaysia: RCEP regional trade pact comes into force

China's Premier Li Keqiang passes Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they gather for a group photo with Asean leaders at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Singapore Nov 14, 2018. Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha looks on in the background. (File photo: Reuters)
China's Premier Li Keqiang passes Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they gather for a group photo with Asean leaders at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Singapore Nov 14, 2018. Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha looks on in the background. (File photo: Reuters)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement has entered into force in Malaysia from Friday, Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry said.

Malaysia is expected to be the largest beneficiary of the China-backed RCEP among Southeast Asian countries in terms of export gains, with a projected US$200 million increase, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, Asean economic ministers wanted to accelerate the enforcement of the RCEP trade pact among all members, aiming to revive the regional economy amid the Covid-19 crisis.

"Cambodia, as chair of the Asean meeting, wants all Asean members to work together to start negotiations to upgrade the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement and existing FTAs, especially the Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA, and accelerate the enforcement of RCEP for all members," Trade Negotiations Department director-general Auramon Supthaweethum said on Wednesday.

Among Asean members, only Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines have yet to submit their RCEP ratification to the Asean Secretariat.

RCEP is larger than the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the EU, the Mercosur trade bloc in South America as well as the recent US-Mexico-Canada FTA. As the world's biggest FTA measured by GDP, RCEP came into force early this year having been ratified by at least six Asean members and three other signatory countries.

It is the first multilateral agreement to include China and the first FTA between China and Japan as well as between Japan and South Korea.


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