The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's largest free trade agreement, will promote intra-regional trade integration by lowering tariffs and accelerate the recovery and long-term growth and prosperity of the global economy, said officials and experts on Sunday.
They spoke in Haikou, Hainan province, at the third annual RCEP Media and Think Tank Forum, the theme of this year was "Jointly Build the World's Largest Free Trade Area". The forum was hosted by the propaganda department of the Hainan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, the China Daily and the China Institute for Reform and Development.
The trade pact, signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries in November 2020, will be fully implemented among all participating economies on 2 June. The pact was signed by China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, as well as the 10 states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Wang Bin, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Hainan Provincial Committee, said the Hainan Free Trade Port will better take advantage of the RCEP and comply with international economic and trade rules, to help create an institutional environment with global competitiveness and open up wider and higher levels.
According to Wang, due to its geographical proximity, Hainan stands a good chance of becoming an important centre for comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries. Furthermore, Hainan will make ASEAN a top priority in its cooperation programme to promote bilateral trade and bilateral investment.
The province will also leverage the institutional advantages of RCEP and Hainan's vast maritime resources to enhance cooperation with RCEP member countries in areas such as marine ecosystem conservation and innovation in marine science and technology to promote sustainable development of the marine environment, said Wang.
Qu Yingpu, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, said the RCEP's focus on mutually beneficial cooperation will promote sustainable recovery and growth of the regional economy and give new impetus to global development and prosperity.
Building on the good momentum, all stakeholders should provide more platforms for the talents of the younger generation to manifest and engage more of them in high-quality implementation of the RCEP. Such efforts will enable them to contribute and advance the construction of a community with a shared future for humanity, he added.
Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute for Reform and Development, said that the RCEP places a high premium on shared development, which will promote inclusive regional development and global economic growth.
The trade pact has established a mutually beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment, Chi said. Its progress proves that market- and rules-based regional economic cooperation is dynamic and has great vitality, and it will deliver long-term, sustainable growth to the region, he added.
Moreover, he said, the alignment and integration of the RCEP with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership will be advanced when appropriate, and efforts will be made to lay the groundwork for expediting the establishment of the Asia-Pacific free trade area.
The ASEAN countries and China provide the vitality and center of gravity for the RCEP region, and advancing the new round of upgrade of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area is key to promoting the RCEP's high-level opening-up, he added.
Ong Tee Keat, chairman of the Centre for New Inclusive Asia and former Malaysian minister of transportation, said it is no easy task to integrate the 15 RCEP economies, which stretch across the Asia-Pacific region and are of diverse sizes and cultures as well as quality and levels of development, creating a huge single market of 2.2 billion people, as reported by China Daily, a partner of TV BRICS.
The Asia-Pacific Region is an economic and political region comprising the countries and island states of North-East Asia, South-East Asia, South Asia and the South Pacific. There is no single approach to defining the boundaries of the region.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is one of the largest and most promising cooperation agreements of regional and global scope. It is rooted in the geo-economic and geopolitical interests of the leading players, especially China, Japan and the ASEAN member countries.
Photo: China Daily