Thailand hosts summit to finalize Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP)

BANGKOK, Thailand, Sept. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Last week, Thailand hosted the 51st ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting from September 6-10 with the goal of finalizing agreements on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP), following the success of the ASEAN Free Trade Area.

These negotiations started in November 2012 between leaders from 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and six ASEAN FTA partners (Australia, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand).

According to ASEAN, RCEP countries have a combined population of about 3.56 billion, with a trade volume of more than US$10.3 trillion representing 29% of world trade.

Based on these figures, the 16 countries will make up one-third of the world's gross domestic product. This will cover everything from goods and services to technical cooperation and intellectual property rights. The RCEP's market size would encompass half the population of the world.

"The RCEP will allow ASEAN to establish a secure foundation and turn itself from a loosely knit group into one that is deeply integrated in all aspects of life,'' said Mr. Chokedee Kaewsang, Deputy Secretary General of Thailand Board of Investment.

RCEP will be able to provide a framework to lower trade barriers and increase market access for goods and services in the region. ASEAN has already established an economic framework that ASEAN's FTA partners can use to improve economic integration and cooperation. This would help facilitate trade and investment relations and engagement in global and regional supply chains.

This November, RCEP agreements will finally be settled during the ASEAN Summit meeting which will help establish new guidelines on skilled labor, professional services, and digitalization for ASEAN micro-enterprises. Once all agreements are settled, the RCEP deal is projected to be signed by all parties by mid-2020, and could lead to a new era of industrial transformation for the region.

If all domestic laws mirror the terms of RCEP, Thailand will have access to cheaper exportation of electronics, machinery, plastics, chemicals, automobile parts, textiles, and tapioca products.

RCEP is also expected to help pave the way for further agreements between ASEAN's FTA partners. Thailand currently has 17 FTAs total -- with ASEAN countries, as well as with China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, and Chile. The Department of Trade Negotiations Director, General Auramon Supthaweethum, has released a report that showed that overall trade in the first half of 2019 under FTAs, reached US$142.97 billion, $70.16 billion of which is exports, and $72.81 billion of which is imports.

Thailand has initiated FTA negotiations with Pakistan and Turkey in 2015, which could diversify and increase the market size of the region, as well as with Russia in 2018.

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SOURCE Thailand Board of Investment