Fact Check
World's largest free trade bloc sets sail
EDITORIAL  ·  2020-11-22  ·   Source: NO.48 NOVEMBER 26, 2020
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement was signed on November 15, an exciting outcome after eight years of formal negotiations in 31 rounds between China, 10 ASEAN countries, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. This marks the official launch of a free trade bloc of the largest population, the largest trading scale and the greatest development potential in the world. 

The 20-chapter agreement covers comprehensive market access commitments on goods, services, investment and other areas. It is a complete, modern, high-quality, and mutually beneficial free trade agreement, marking a new milestone for East Asian economic integration. The total population, economic volume and trade volume of the 15 current RCEP members account for some 30 percent of the global total, which means that about one third of the global economy makes for an integrated market.  

As the novel coronavirus pandemic still wreaks havoc around the globe, the world economy has been propelled into a severe recession. Global trade and investment are shrinking; protectionism and unilateralism are escalating. Against this gloomy backdrop, the signing of the RCEP offers a ray of light and hope for those stuck in the haze. Additionally, it gives off a strong signal to the world that the signing bloc opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism, supports free trade, and upholds the multilateral trading system.  

The RCEP will become an integrator of economic and trade rules within the region, while all the 15 RCEP members will obey these rules and cooperate. In the meantime, the RCEP, accommodating the aspirations of all parties to the greatest extent, will foster inclusive and balanced development within the region and enable all parties to reap the full benefits thereof.  

The RCEP agreement will lead countries in the region to achieve elevated levels of opening up in trade in goods, services and investment within its framework, greatly boost liberalization and facilitation for trade and investment across the region, and enhance the region's appeal and competitiveness. While giving a strong push to regional economic recovery as a whole and injecting new momentum into its development and prosperity, the RCEP agreement will also position itself as an important engine for global economic development.  

For China particularly, the RCEP will be conducive to further optimizing the distribution of foreign trade and investment through a broader, more in-depth and diversified style of opening up, keeping in line with international trade and investment standards, creating a new-type and higher-level open economic system. It will also help Chinese industries to fully participate in market competition and improve China's ability to allocate resources across both domestic and international markets. To this end, China strongly advocates that the RCEP comes into effect at the earliest possible date.  

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