RCEP new impetus for regional, global growth: Cambodian officials, experts

(Xinhua) 15:08, December 30, 2021

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement, which is scheduled to come into force on Jan. 1, 2022, will inject new impetus into the regional and global economic growth in the post-COVID-19 era, Cambodian officials and experts said.

Signed on Nov. 15, 2020, the RCEP is a mega trade pact between 10 ASEAN member states -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and its free trade agreement partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's undersecretary of state and spokesman Penn Sovicheat said the pact will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded between its signatories over the next 20 years.

"RCEP is considered as a victory of multilateralism and free trade and it will become the core foundation for trade and investment in the region," he told Xinhua.

"So with RCEP, we will use it as a driving force and the impetus for the regional and global growth in the post-COVID era," he said.

Covering a region with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars, or about 30 percent of global GDP, RCEP agreement is an unprecedented, modern, comprehensive, high-quality and reciprocal mega-regional trading arrangement that accommodates the broadest possible interests, conditions and priorities of different countries.

Sovicheat said the pact is expected to provide tremendous opportunities and benefits to Cambodia in a long run, saying that it will facilitate trade and diversify the exports of Cambodian products, especially agricultural ones, to the RCEP participating countries.

"Through the study of institute and the expert group of the Ministry of Commerce, we expect that our annual export will increase from 9.4 percent to 18 percent, contributing to the increase of the economy from 2 percent to 3.8 percent," he said.

"It will increase annual job opportunities from 3.2 percent to 6.2 percent, and we also expect to have the increase of tax from 2 percent to 3.9 percent," he added.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said RCEP is very beneficial to Cambodia as it will give the kingdom greater market access and help attract more investment.

"I believe that more and more investors, especially from China, will come to invest in Cambodia," he told Xinhua. "New investment will bring new capital and technology as well as generate more job opportunities for Cambodian people."

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said it will provide Cambodia with increased commercial opportunities and partnerships with other RCEP members, especially with China.

"RCEP will reduce trade barriers coupled with enhanced market access and will make each RCEP member more attractive to foreign investors and encourage cross-border investments among RCEP members," he said.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute in Phnom Penh, said the pact offers opportunities for regional countries to defend trade liberalization and promote economic cooperation, which is essential to the post-COVID-19 recovery.

"The success story of RCEP could serve as a model and be a hope for cross-regional economic cooperation and connectivity in the post-pandemic era," he told Xinhua. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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