Interview: RCEP of great significance for global trade amid anti-globalization sentiment, scholar says

(Xinhua) 09:49, January 29, 2022

LONDON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- As the world's largest free trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement has great significance for fostering the global economy and trade in the face of counter-globalization sentiment these years, an Oxford scholar has said.

"In recent years, the counter-globalization movement, the trade war launched by the Trump administration, and Brexit have dealt a huge blow to globalization, the opening up of world economy and global exchange, and the international trading system," said Fu Xiaolan, founding director of the Technology and Management Center for Development at the University of Oxford, in a recent written interview with Xinhua.

In contrast to the setbacks, Fu said, "the RCEP has played a role at the critical moment in bolstering the global trade and economic system that has taken the big hit."

Having entered into force since Jan. 1, the RCEP agreement groups 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. More than 90 percent of merchandise trade among the members is expected to be subject to zero tariffs.

The RCEP covers about 30 percent of the world's population and economy, the expert said. "Across the global economies, the region has been the fastest developing and most dynamic in the past one decade or two and seen its technological innovation activities growing rapidly."

"Not only can it vigorously drive forward the trade among member countries, but it is expected to greatly facilitate the international investment between companies through uniform rules in this aspect," Fu said. "Benefits also include the facilitation of the movement of people, and the RCEP encourages regional knowledge exchange."

Besides, "the partnership has seen breakthroughs in the opening up to trade in services, e-commerce, the free flow of data and others," the scholar noted, adding that the members have been exploring more possibilities in the frontier areas of international trade as well, which is conducive to the development in this regard.

As the world's largest market and an engine of the world economy, Fu said, China's demand "drives the development of other countries," and its participation in the agreement also "provides an institutional guarantee for its adherence to high-standard opening up."

Overall, the deal would underpin the economic recovery of Asia as well as the whole world, Fu said. "The partnership would promote the economy, trade, investment and innovation in China and beyond."

While some other free trade areas established earlier have been ramping up their exclusion efforts with protectionist tendencies, she noted, "the RCEP comes when Asia-Pacific, especially ASEAN, countries unite to help each other, choose their own development path, build a community with a shared future to deal with the changes in the world economy." 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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