On November 15, during the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders attending the meeting, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan signed the RCEP on behalf of the Chinese government, together with the trade ministers of 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, the ROK, Australia and New Zealand.
The RCEP consists of 20 chapters, covering comprehensive market access commitments on goods, services, investment and other areas. It is a comprehensive, modern, high-quality and mutually beneficial free trade agreement. The overall liberalization level for trade in goods exceeds 90%; the service trade commitment is significantly higher than that of the original China-ASEAN FTA; the negative list approach is applied for market access commitments on investment; the rules cover trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, competition policy, government procurement and other areas at a higher level. The RCEP Agreement also fully takes differences in economic scale and development level among members into consideration, and includes dedicated chapters on small and medium-sized enterprises and economic and technological cooperation to help developing members, especially the least developed ones, to fully enjoy the benefits of RCEP.
The signing of the RCEP Agreement marks the successful launch of the world's largest free trade area and is a new milestone for East Asian economic integration. The total population, economic volume and trade of the 15 existing RCEP members all account for about 30% of the global total, which means that about one third of the global economy forms an integrated market. This will strongly support the free trade and multilateral trading system, promote international cooperation against COVID-19, keep the regional industrial chain and supply chain stable, and boost regional and global economic recovery and development.
In the next step, the parties are committed to completing their domestic approval procedures so that the agreement will enter into force as early as possible.