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Rollout of RCEP significant on many levels: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-01-03 20:08


January 1 marks the one-year anniversary of the entry into force of the world's largest trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, consisting of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations along with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Against the backdrop of sluggish global economic growth, this free trade bloc, covering the largest population and the largest scale of economy and trade, has not only injected vigor into the development of the regional economy. It also serves as a model for common development among countries of different political systems and different cultures.

China's participation in the RCEP showcases the country's resolve to further open up and to promote multilateralism as well as free trade, which China believes are the ways to ensure the common development of all countries.

As the world's second-largest economy, China accounts for 60 percent of the RCEP's total economic volume, and its huge market, as well as the transformation of economic structure, provides impetus for the growth of the regional economy.

The RCEP stimulates regional economic dynamism by reducing impediments to greater economic exchanges and the regional division of labor, such as tariffs and non-tariff measures. This paves the way for the more efficient allocation of production factors, more efficient design and deployment of cross-border supply and value chains, and regionally coordinated trading rules and best practices in relation to international commerce.

E-commerce is a good example. Facilitated by non-tariff measures and customs clearance convenience, the RCEP region has the most active cross-border e-commerce and enjoys the highest growth rate in the world.

The total volume of imports and exports between China and other RCEP members reached 11.8 trillion yuan ($1.71 trillion) from January to November last year, an increase of 7.9 percent year-on-year. This speaks volumes about how the RCEP has promoted economic and trade cooperation between China and the other participating countries and the development of the regional economy.

The lower tariffs facilitated by the RCEP have greatly reduced the cost of imports for the ASEAN members, while at the same time considerably increasing the opportunities for their exports.

The RCEP reduced the tariffs between China and its ASEAN partners on more than 65 percent of commodities to zero immediately after the treaty took effect last year. From January to October last year, China's imports and exports with ASEAN countries reached $798.4 billion, an increase of 13.8 percent year-on-year.

The RCEP is also the first free trade treaty China, Japan and the ROK are jointly participating in, and it will further promote economic cooperation and trade among the three major countries in East Asia.

The importance of the RCEP, therefore, can never be overestimated for the development of both the regional and global economies.

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