Attendees of the 55th ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Foreign Ministers' Meeting pose for a group photo in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Aug 3, 2022. (LY LAY / XINHUA)
PHNOM PENH - The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement would be a key contributor to the recovery strategy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to an ASEAN foreign ministers' joint communique released on Friday.
The RCEP would make significant contribution to our recovery strategy and continue to support an inclusive and open trade and investment architecture in the region.
Joint communique issued by ASEAN foreign ministers
In the joint communique issued after the 55th ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting (55th AMM) held in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, the ministers welcomed the entry into force of the RCEP from Jan 1, 2022.
"The RCEP would make significant contribution to our recovery strategy and continue to support an inclusive and open trade and investment architecture in the region," the communique read.
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The ministers also welcomed the outcomes of the first RCEP Joint Committee Meeting in April, which discussed the preparation of RCEP implementation, including the establishment of the committees to monitor RCEP implementation and the endorsement of the key elements on the establishment of the RCEP secretariat.
The mega-regional pact will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded among its signatories over the next 20 years
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 55th AMM on Wednesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen proposed the establishment of a standalone secretariat in Cambodia to maximize the potential of the RCEP.
"Cambodia is ready to host this RCEP secretariat. We have even thought of where in Phnom Penh the secretariat should be located, while we are working to formulate our detailed proposal," he said.
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"I hope Cambodia can win the support of fellow ASEAN member states, as well as all RCEP participating countries when we submit our proposal officially."
The RCEP will give a big boost to our economy in the post-pandemic era.
Penn Sovicheat, Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's undersecretary of state and spokesman
The RCEP comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 ASEAN member states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The mega-regional pact will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded among its signatories over the next 20 years.
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Being the world's largest trade bloc, the RCEP established a market of 2.2 billion people, or 30 percent of the world population with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $26.2 trillion, which represents around 30 percent of global GDP and 28 percent of global trade.
"It is the most ambitious regional free trade agreement in Asia in which China has played a vital role in converting Asian economy into a core economic polar aimed at averting protectionism and the widespread negative impacts of the trade war," he told Xinhua.