RCEP is expected to welcome more members in the coming years
HONG KONG: Signs are already emerging that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, could expand beyond the third of the world it already covers.
Allan Gepty, assistant secretary for international trade policy and trade negotiations at the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, who was the country’s chief RCEP negotiator, said the elimination of tariffs means that “people can have cheaper access to raw materials and intermediate goods needed for production and manufacturing. Activities”.
The partnership, which covers 15 countries that are home to around a third of the world’s population and around 30% of the world’s gross domestic product, could grow in scale over the next few years. The trade pact includes a provision that allows “any state or separate customs territory to join 18 months after the effective date.”
Gepty is optimistic that more economies will seek to join the deal.
“RCEP has an open membership clause for any state or separate customs territory. Given the extent of economic activities in the region, such as research and development, product development, innovation, manufacturing and marketing, it is expected that greater participation will be attracted by other states or customs territories,” he said.
A possible addition is India, home to nearly 1.4 billion people. The country was involved in RCEP negotiations from the start, but pulled out in 2019 over fears the deal would deepen India’s trade deficits with most other members.
Although there has been no formal move by the Indian government to join the deal, analysts in the country have suggested it could benefit from such a move.
Several RCEP members, including China, Japan and Australia, have suggested that it would be beneficial for India to join RCEP, with Japan saying it is “in India’s interest”.
Japanese Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs Noriyuki Shikata told reporters on March 20, “RCEP will benefit India’s economy with better supply chain, especially with ASEAN countries. India will exceptionally be treated as a founding member. – Chinese Daily/ANN.