Malaysia’s Trade and Services Will Benefit from RCEP

As an important engine for the economic recovery of various industries in the post-pandemic era, the agreement will deepen the integration of global supply chains. Certain products and services will have lower tariffs and so on

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The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has confirmed receiving the respective instruments of ratification/acceptance (IOR/A) from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in early November; whereas four other non-ASEAN signatory nations – China, New Zealand, Australia and Japan have also formally submitted their RCEP ratifications. Now, following the conditions of the RECP Agreement have been fulfilled, we expect that RCEP would come into force in these 10 countries at the start of next year.

The members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) include the ten ASEAN member countries, together with China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand which have reached a free trade agreement last year. The trade alliance achieves bargaining power and a potentially huge market. The 15 countries account for about a third of the world’s total population and around 30% of global GDP. Out of the members, especially Malaysia, all have great development potential. In terms of economic and trade cooperation, the members are existing trade partners and have many years of experience in dealing and partnership with each other. The cross-countries business and legal experiences are definitely assets for the member countries.

In November 2020, the RCEP members signed advanced free trade agreements on goods, services and investment and trade, involving economic and technological cooperation. The cooperation includes intellectual property rights, digital products and related technology, etc.  Such arrangements are economically important in the Region. The member countries can boost their economies, stabilize employment, and stimulate domestic demand in the post-pandemic situation. Through the RCEP, the member countries can expect a deepening of their cooperation and trade recovering from the economic downturn.

As such, Malaysia and other member countries should be optimistic about the future of RCEP. As an important engine for the economic recovery of various industries in the post-pandemic era, the agreement will deepen the integration of global supply chains. Certain products and services will have lower tariffs, while member states can set up free-trade zones and establish preferential policies for private enterprises with partnership countries. RCEP could even become an extended branch of the Belt and Road Initiative within the Asia-Pacific region. The ASEAN + 3 countries are already steady trading partners and RCEP is just a more integrated trading group in the region.

In the 21st century, we need to abandon zero-sum thinking, unilateralism and protectionism. We need synergy and join hands to cooperate.  Actively embracing multilateral cooperation may fit the current global needs. RCEP is a turning point, enhancing the economic confidence and regrowth of Asia-Pacific countries while laying a foundation for future trade in both Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. New opportunities are expected.  RCEP is a set of rules and mechanisms that promotes cooperation through win-win relationships and supports economic growth. We are looking forward to Malaysia’s trade and services that will benefit from RCEP.

**The facts and views expressed are solely that of the author/authors and do not necessarily reflect that of the editorial board.