What does it mean to conclude the RCEP negotiations as a whole
The third leaders' meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement ((RCEP)) was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 4 November. After the meeting, the leaders issued a joint statement announcing that the RCEP15 member states had concluded all text negotiations and virtually all market access negotiations, and were committed to ensuring that the agreement was signed next year.
What does it mean to conclude the RCEP negotiations as a whole in today's rapidly changing global environment? How can regional, Chinese and world economy and trade benefit from it? On November 6, the Information Office of the State Council held a regular briefing on the policy of the State Council. Wang Shouwen, vice minister of commerce and deputy representative of international trade negotiations, and Yang Zhengwei, head of the International Department of the Ministry of Commerce, gave an answer.
A modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial free trade agreement
It is understood that the RCEP negotiations were launched by the 10 ASEAN countries in 2012 and invited Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand to participate, with the goal of further improving the "10 / 1" free trade agreements signed with these countries. Reach a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, mutually beneficial new large-scale free trade agreement.
"the leaders' meeting officially announced the conclusion of the negotiations among the 15 member states as a whole, marking a major breakthrough in the construction of a free trade zone with the largest population, the most diversified membership structure and the greatest development potential in the world." Wang Shouwen said.
How to reflect "modern", "comprehensive", "high quality" and "reciprocity"? Wang Shouwen said that first of all, it has 20 chapters, including the basic characteristics of the FTA, trade in goods, trade in services, investment access and the corresponding rules, which is a comprehensive FTA.
"second, it is a modern free trade agreement. For example, e-commerce is not clearly reflected in the WTO agreement, because e-commerce did not develop much at that time, but today e-commerce is already an important form of international trade. RCEP includes e-commerce, intellectual property rights, competition policy, government procurement, small and medium-sized enterprises and so on. " "third, the open level of the agreement on trade in goods is more than 90 percent, and the negotiation of investment access in the form of a negative list is a high-quality free trade agreement," Wang said. "
The mutual benefit of RCEP is mainly reflected in the balance of interests in the fields of trade in goods, trade in services, investment and rules. "in particular, the agreement also includes provisions on economic and technological cooperation, giving least developed countries such as Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia some transitional arrangements, including the provision of more favourable conditions for these member States, So that it can be better integrated into regional economic integration. " Wang Shouwen revealed.
The economy and trade of the region, China and the world can all benefit from it.
According to 2018 data, the population of the RCEP15 member countries that have concluded negotiations as a whole has reached 2.2 billion, GDP has reached 29 trillion US dollars, exports have reached 5.6 trillion US dollars, and the flow of foreign investment has attracted 370 billion US dollars. These indicators account for about 30 per cent of the global total. "as a result, when RCEP15 is completed, it will be the largest free trade zone in the world." Wang Shouwen pointed out that the conclusion of RCEP will be of great benefit to the region, to China, and to the world economy and trade.
"for our region, first, RCEP15 is a collective upgrade of the existing'10 / 1 'free trade agreements, which will form a unified system of rules within the region, which will be very convenient for the industrial and commercial sector and import and export enterprises in the region. It helps to reduce the operating cost and the uncertain risk of operation. Second, it is conducive to the formation of supply chains and value chains in the region according to comparative advantages, and is of great benefit to the flow of goods, technology, services and capital, including the cross-border movement of people, in the region. To form a 'trade creation' effect and promote intra-regional trade and investment. In addition, for extraregional investors, entering one country in the region now means entering the region as a whole, and the market and space for development will increase significantly, helping the region to attract extraregional investment. " Wang Shouwen further pointed out.
RCEP also means a lot to China. In 2018, the import and export volume of goods in China exceeded 4.6 trillion US dollars, of which the import and export trade volume to the other 14 countries of RCEP exceeded 1.3 trillion US dollars, accounting for a very high proportion. "in addition, last year, China invested US $16 billion in these 14 countries and attracted US $14 billion in regional foreign investment, which is also very large. Therefore, RCEP is conducive to our stable foreign trade and foreign investment. The development of healthy, sustainable and stable foreign trade and investment relations is of great significance. " "specifically, for enterprises that need to rely on imported raw materials and parts from these areas, the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers will greatly reduce enterprise costs," Wang said. It is of great benefit to businesses, workers and consumers. "
Judging from the global environment, unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise, the global economy is under great downward pressure, and the growth rate of trade has dropped significantly. In this context, RCEP, as an important result of regional integration and the largest free trade agreement in the world, will undoubtedly boost the confidence of the world economy.
"in particular, it is worth mentioning that among the RCEP15 countries, there are both the most developed countries and the least developed countries. The level of economic development, cultural background and political system are very different. These 15 countries can reach such an agreement. It is also of great and far-reaching significance to the formulation of global economic and trade rules in the future. " Wang Yuwen stressed.
At this leaders' meeting, leaders of various countries also made positive comments on the significant progress made in the RCEP negotiations. It was unanimously agreed that the completion of the RCEP negotiations under the current situation is conducive to sending out messages dedicated to building an open world economy and supporting the multilateral trading system, improving the regional trade and investment environment, and promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. To help countries better meet the challenges and enhance the potential for future development in the region for the benefit of the people of the region.
All parties make joint efforts to promote the signing of the agreement as soon as possible
Wang Yuwen said: the RCEP negotiations lasted seven years, and all parties have made great efforts and overcome many difficulties, especially in the past year, all parties have made every effort to speed up the process. The results of the negotiations reached so far fully take into account the interests and concerns of all parties and reflect the maximum common divisor of the development aspirations of the participants. China has always attached great importance to and played an active and constructive role in the RCEP negotiations, and ASEAN, as the central party leading the negotiations, has put forward follow-up arrangements for the next step of work.
"member states should work hard to complete a small number of remaining issues by the end of this year, mainly to complete a small number of market access negotiations with each other. Carry out the text review work immediately and prepare the complete legal text for signature as soon as possible. We hope that all parties can resolve the relevant problems as soon as possible and achieve a mutually satisfactory result. " Yang Zhengwei said. (reporter Chen Chen)