Aspects of the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) were discussed during a recent webinar titled “Unlocking RCEP for Business: Trade for Goods II”.
Organized by the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the East Asia Business Council, the webinar took place on September 3 and is the second in a series. The webinar focused on the Rules of Origin (RO) and Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation (CPTF) of the RCEP Agreement.
The RCEP agreement was signed in November last year and involves 15 participating countries – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand. Zealand.
ASEAN Economic Community Deputy Secretary General Satvinder Singh delivered an opening speech during the webinar, highlighting the importance of trade in goods for ASEAN and how the RCEP agreement can help trade in ASEAN to develop. He noted that ASEAN’s overall merchandise trade value was recorded at $ 2.66 trillion, down 5.5% from the previous year due to the pandemic.
“I think that is why all of us in ASEAN and our private sectors look forward to the RCEP agreement, hoping that it will contribute to our economic recovery and resilience,” he said.
“Therefore, I believe that a good understanding of the technical aspects and details of the regulations under the RCEP Agreement, especially among our Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), will help the region’s business community to benefit preferences. that have been negotiated.
Looking ahead, the Deputy Secretary General said: “What is important is to take the situation as we see it today, most of the countries participating in RCEP, they are aiming for January 1, 2022, date entry into force of the agreement because we believe that the RCEP agreement will bring tangible benefits to businesses in the region.
“The agreement aims to help reduce our trading costs. It will also help to further integrate our ASEAN producers into global value chains by simplifying and streamlining rules related to trade in goods. I think we all strongly believe that RCEP will help ASEAN companies to exploit more opportunities among participating countries. We hope that a new demand will be generated for all.
The Deputy Secretary General said that for this to happen, the simplified trade rules of the RCEP agreement, in particular the ROO and CPTF measures, will add value in addition to the ASEAN Plus One Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). existing.
He noted that the RCEP aims to streamline the various rules that exist today in participating countries into one set of rules.
The Deputy Secretary General also underlined the need to ensure inclusive, effective and efficient implementation and use of the RCEP Agreement once it enters into force.
He said the agreement includes a chapter dedicated to economic and technical cooperation as well as a cooperation provision under other chapters, including the customs chapter.
“Now these arrangements are all aimed at maximizing mutual benefits between the parties, and since in most ASEAN member states, SMEs make up almost 95-97% of all businesses, and they make up almost 60- 80%. percent of employment, it is important that we ensure their participation and understanding of technical cooperation programs. And I think that these programs will be inclusive and that they will contribute to the acceptance among SMEs as well as the rate of use of RCEP.
Singh added that efforts are being made to increase awareness among businesses, including the webinar. “Our hope is that these kinds of events will improve understanding of the RCEP agreement among the private sector, which is going to be the main beneficiaries.”
According to a press release from the ASEAN secretariat, the webinar brought together experts, who participated in the RCEP negotiations, to explain how the ROO chapters of the RCEP and CPTF work to facilitate the movement of goods within the RCEP.
He also discussed the benefits these chapters bring to businesses in the region, especially micro, small and medium enterprises.
It was reported that the webinar presenters and panelists acknowledged that the ROO and CPTF chapters make the RCEP deal better and more trade-friendly than the ASEAN Plus One FTAs.
“The ROO chapter is one of the chapters that add the most value to the ASEAN Plus One FTAs in terms of streamlining different rules into one defined rule, and offers more options for the company to claim. the RCEP origin status of the products, i.e. Certificate of Origin or Declaration of Origin.
“The various presentations were also intended to guide companies on how to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the RCEP ROO and CPTF chapters, including the step-by-step verification if their products are eligible for RCEP preferential treatment. “
The press release also pointed out that a recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economic suggests that the RCEP agreement will further expand trade among its members; contributing directly to their economic growth.
He said that, based on the study, by 2025, the RCEP agreement is expected to increase its members’ exports by more than 10 percent and by 2030 add about 0.2 percent to growth. of GDP in the region.
The webinar highlighted that realizing the potential of RCEP will depend on its timely entry into force and the full, effective and inclusive implementation of the Accord by its members.
“Following the signing of the RCEP agreement last year, the signatory states are now undertaking their respective ratification processes and aim to complete them within this year,” the statement said.