SINGAPORE: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement involving 15 countries including Singapore, entered into force on Saturday (Jan 1).
The RCEP will “provide a boost to the trade and business ties between Singapore and the RCEP parties”, said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong in a press release.
“We are heartened that many Singapore businesses indicated that they were keen to explore utilising the RCEP Agreement when it enters info force during outreach events,” he added.
From Saturday, businesses will be able to enjoy tariff elimination of about 92 per cent for goods traded amongst signatory parties for which the agreement has entered into force, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said.
The agreement was signed in November 2020. Countries that have ratified the agreement so far include Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.
The agreement will enter into force for the other participating countries 60 days after they have deposited their instrument of ratification with the Depositary.
Businesses will also benefit from additional preferential market access for specific products including mineral fuels, plastics, other chemical products, miscellaneous food preparations and beverages in selected RCEP markets such as China and Japan, said MTI.
“With streamlined rules of origin and regional cumulation provisions, businesses will have greater flexibility to tap on these preferential market access benefits and be able to take advantage of regional supply chains.”
Businesses could also benefit from enhanced commitments above existing ASEAN Plus One free trade agreements in some sectors, it added. Investors may benefit from commitments to prohibit performance requirements and provisions that lock in future relaxation of measures as well.
“The RCEP Agreement is a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership that builds on existing bilateral agreements that ASEAN has with its free trade partners,” MTI said.
It is the largest free trade deal to date, covering about 30 per cent of global gross domestic product and 30 per cent of the world’s population. The agreement comprises 20 chapters, including new areas such as intellectual property, competition policy and e-commerce.
“That the RCEP Agreement is entering into force about a year after it was signed, is testament to the region’s determination and commitment to deepening economic integration amidst difficult times,” said Mr Gan.
“We look forward to the swift ratification of the RCEP by all remaining parties so that the full potential of the agreement can be realised.”