15 out of 16 member states complete negotiations the world's largest free trade zone is expected to be born next year
The 35th ASEAN Summit and a series of East Asian cooperation leaders' meetings were held in Bangkok, Thailand, from November 2 to 4, Reuters reported. Much attention has been paid to the negotiations at this meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (hereinafter referred to as "RCEP"). According to the Indian Telegraph Network, the RCEP issued a joint statement saying that 15 member countries except India have concluded textual negotiations in all 20 chapters and negotiations on virtually all market access.
Strong containment of protectionism
Launched in 2012 by 10 ASEAN countries and joined by six dialogue partners, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India, RCEP aims to establish a free trade agreement for a unified market of 16 countries by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers.
RCEP member states are actively seeking partnerships. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth, who holds the rotating chair of ASEAN, promised in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit that "be friends with all people, not enemies with others," and ASEAN will continue to uphold this practice, Thailand's Bangkok Post reported. On November 4, Prayuth again said he was "very satisfied" with the "significant progress" made in the completion of the agreement, Bloomberg reported.
Philippine President Duterte issued a statement stressing that ASEAN should sign the RCEP as soon as possible, according to South Korean Broadcasting Corporation television. New Zealand Prime Minister Adrian also talked about the need to reach an RCEP in a speech at the ASEAN summit, Bloomberg reported.
Agence France-Presse said the ASEAN summit echoed voices of opposition to trade protectionism. Japan's Kyodo news agency analysis believes that it is precisely out of vigilance against trade protectionism, the enthusiasm of 16 countries to promote the RCEP has been rising rapidly since last year. If the RCEP is successfully signed, it will give birth to the world's largest free trade zone, which will become a powerful containment force against trade protectionism.
India says it will not join for the time being
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said India will not join the RCEP for the time being, according to Indian television in New Delhi. India is conservative in the RCEP negotiations because it wants to protect its industry, according to the Economic Times.
Professor Shen Minghui, secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and East Asian Cooperation Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out in an interview with this newspaper that India tends to have a conservative attitude towards trade and investment liberalization. In addition, bilateral negotiations involve a larger catalogue of sensitive products in India, leading to a more cautious attitude in India.
Shen Minghui believes that the conclusion of the agreement requires all countries to coordinate their domestic interests, reduce domestic opposition, and at the same time grasp the yardstick in the negotiations and find a balance of interests. The most important thing is the political decision-making and driving force of world leaders.
Other participating countries paid attention to India's decision not to join the RCEP for the time being, and generally said that they would work together to address India's concerns. "my understanding is that India will continue to discuss and negotiate," Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said, Reuters reported. " According to Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he hoped that India, an economy with great potential, would eventually "fully participate in the agreement."
The agreement will break down trade barriers
According to the Guardian, the RCEP issued a joint statement saying that the RCEP will greatly promote the future economic growth prospects of the region, make a positive contribution to the global economy, and will become a strong support for the multilateral trading system. We will promote regional economic development.
According to New Zealand media Vox, New Zealand Prime Minister Aden believes that "at a time of increased instability and a slowdown in global trade and economic growth, RCEP will provide an important driving force for the regional economy."
"although no agreement has been reached for the time being, the participating countries have completed substantive negotiations on core issues and are still highly looking forward to signing the agreement in 2020." Shen Minghui said: "in the context of the uncertain prospects of the world economy and the prevalence of trade protectionism, the signing of the RCEP agreement will become a positive signal for safeguarding free trade and a motivator for promoting the development of the world economy. At the regional economic level, the RCEP will remove barriers to trade between countries, simplify customs clearance rules and implement more convenient measures to facilitate trade between countries in the East Asian region. " (Luan Ruoxi)