RCEP kicks in with Thailand, China and 8 other countries

Date: 2022.01.05

The new Asia-Pacific free trade agreement entered into force on 1 January 2022 creating the world’s largest trading bloc by economic size.

With 15 Asia-Pacific countries covering about 30% of the world’s gross domestic product and population, the RCEP takes effect among 10 members that completed ratification: China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. South Korea will follow on Feb. 1. The remaining four signatories are Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

By comparison, other major regional trade agreements by share of global GDP are the South American trade bloc Mercosur (2.4%), Africa’s continental free trade area (2.9%), the European Union (17.9%) and the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (28%).By comparison, other major regional trade agreements by share of global GDP are the South American trade bloc Mercosur (2.4%), Africa’s continental free trade area (2.9%), the European Union (17.9%) and the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (28%).

An UNCTAD’s analysis shows that the RCEP’s impact on international trade will be significant. “The economic size of the emerging bloc and its trade dynamism will make it a centre of gravity for global trade,” the report says.

It also cites Thailand’s example, where trade creation effects completely compensate for the negative trade diversion effects.

The Commerce Ministry estimated Thailand has 39,366 goods that would benefit from the duty reduction (South Korea has 11,104 items, Japan 8,216 items, China 7,491 items, New Zealand 6,866 items, and Australia 5,689 items). Thailand has 29,891 goods that should enjoy zero tariffs immediately after the pact’s implementation.

Amid COVID-19, the entry into force of the RCEP can also promote trade resilience. Recent UNCTAD research shows that trade within such agreements has been relatively more resilient against the pandemic-induced global trade downturn.

Read more here.

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