Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Trade Agreement Signed

Leaders of ASEAN member countries, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea on Sunday witnessed the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement.
Members of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) include Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, and Brunei Darussalam.

Together, the RCEP participating countries account for about 30 percent of the global GDP and, with a combined population of about 2.3 billion people, 30 percent of the world’s population.

The objective of the RCEP agreement is to establish a modern, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development.

On its coverage, the RCEP agreement comprises a total of 20 chapters.
The chapter on trade in goods contains key elements that govern the implementation of goods-related commitments to achieve a high level of trade liberalization among the countries. These include granting national treatment to the goods of the other countries; reduction or elimination of customs duties; and duty-free temporary admission of goods; and the reaffirmation of commitments in the WTO Ministerial Decision on Export Competition, including elimination of scheduled export subsidy entitlements for agricultural goods.

According to the New Zealand Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the RCEP includes to market access for New Zealand goods exports to Indonesia, through tariff elimination on a number of products, including grated or powdered cheese and liquid milk.

The RCEP’s chapter on customs procedures and trade facilitation aims to ensure predictability, consistency, and transparency in the application of customs laws and regulations, and promote efficient administration of customs procedures and expeditious clearance of goods. For express consignments and perishable goods, the agreement contains an expectation that these goods will be released from the customs control within six hours of arrival of the goods and the submission of necessary documents.

The chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures sets out the basic framework for developing, adopting and applying SPS measures for the purpose of protecting human, animal or plant life or health as well as for facilitating trade by minimizing the negative effects of SPS measures on trade.

While the countries affirm their rights and obligations under the WTO SPS Agreement, certain provisions are agreed upon to enhance the implementation of that agreement, taking into account relevant international standards, guidelines, and recommendations with regard to equivalence, adaptation to regional conditions, including pest- or disease-free areas and areas of low pest or disease prevalence, risk analysis, audit, certification, import checks, and emergency measures.

The chapter on ...

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