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Nation completes RCEP preparations

By ZHONG NAN in Beijing and LIU ZHIHUA in Shanghai| China Daily| Updated: November 8, 2021


Containers carrying goods for export are seen in Qingdao Port, East China's Shandong province. [Photo/VCG]

China's readiness to fully implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement will encourage free trade and create new space for win-win cooperation, government officials and business leaders said on Sunday.

The Ministry of Commerce announced over the weekend that the country has completed all due preparations for implementing committed tariff reductions, adjustments on the rules of origin for goods, and software system updates at customs authorities to ensure smooth tariff reductions under the RCEP framework.

China will be able to fully meet its obligations when the RCEP comes into effect at the start of next year, said Yu Benlin, director-general of the ministry's department of international trade and economic affairs.

The ministry confirmed last week that six member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and four non-ASEAN countries-China, Japan, New Zealand and Australia-had formally submitted their RCEP ratifications to ASEAN's secretariat, meeting the conditions for the deal to come into force in those 10 countries at the start of next year.

Yu said the RCEP-the world's biggest trade pact by GDP-is designed to remove as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded between signatories within a decade of coming into effect. It is set to significantly boost trade and foster wider market access in finance, transportation, education and tourism services.

The Ministry of Commerce and other government agencies have completed preparations for the implementation of all 701 binding obligations involving China under the RCEP, Yu added.

A total of 166,000 Chinese entrepreneurs, trade and customs officials and related personnel have completed RCEP training in over 600 training sessions and online training courses.

The RCEP will further stabilize industrial and supply chains in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes into effect, ensure free trade and regional connectivity and contribute to the world's economic recovery, said Dang Yingjie, deputy director-general of the national office of port administration at the General Administration of Customs.

China's foreign trade volume with other RCEP participants surged 19.3 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of this year, data from the administration showed.

Lensey Chen, president of the China arm of Novozymes, a Danish biological solutions provider and a second-time exhibitor at the ongoing China International Import Expo, said the company exports a large number of products manufactured at its factories in Tianjin and the provinces of Jiangsu and Liaoning to other RCEP economies.

"For example, our products applied in the detergent industry are exported to many RCEP countries, like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea," Chen said, adding that the company is studying RCEP policies and hopes to make full use of the favorable policies brought about by the framework.

"We are pleased to see the RCEP is about to take effect, especially as global trade has been under a severe impact from the pandemic," said Deserine Lim, assistant general manager of branding and strategic marketing (North Asia) at Singapore-based health product company OSIM.

Implementation of the RCEP will create a better business environment and more opportunities for Singaporean companies, with reduction in trade costs, facilitation of customs clearance and more transparency in government policies, she said.

The RCEP was officially signed on Nov 15 last year.

Its 15 member countries have a total population of 2.27 billion and a total GDP of $26 trillion. Their combined exports stand at $5.2 trillion, accounting for around 30 percent of the world's total economic output, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.