RCEP promotes ASEAN economic integration in global economy: Cambodian minister-Xinhua

Dec. Garment workers prepare clothes at a factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on May 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Wu Songwei)

Cambodia’s total exports to RCEP member countries have grown significantly, and the mega trade deal will help the Southeast Asian country achieve its development goals, the official said.

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) plays an important role in promoting ASEAN economic integration in the global economy, Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Ban Sorasak said.

„The world’s largest free trade agreement will promote resilient, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region and counter the trend of anti-globalisation and protectionism,” he said at the launch of the book „RCEP: Part I: Geo”. -Political, Geo-Economic and Legal Analysis” recently in Phnom Penh.

The RCEP free trade agreement includes 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Trade partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Covering 2.3 billion people, or 30 percent of the world’s population, RCEP contributed US$26.2 trillion, 30 percent of global GDP, and 28 percent of global trade in goods and services and 32.5 percent of global foreign trade, Sorasak said. Direct investment credit.

He said the mega-trade deal would help Cambodia graduate from its least-developed country status by 2027, become an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and achieve its goals of becoming a high-income country by 2050.

According to the minister, Cambodia’s total exports to RCEP member countries stood at $4.59 billion in the January-July period this year, an increase of 21 percent year-on-year.

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Jan. 1, effective from 2022, RCEP member countries have committed to eliminate tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods traded within the RCEP.

This aerial photo taken on May 11, 2023 shows a railway container distribution center in Qinzhou City, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Zhang Ailin)

Khin Phia, director general of the Institute of International Relations of Cambodia, a think tank under the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said RCEP has contributed to stabilizing the economies of its members, especially amid this global economic slowdown and uncertainty.

„RCEP has great potential to generate tangible benefits for all its members, and ASEAN will reap long-term benefits through further integration into global supply chains,” he told Xinhua on Monday. „I believe RCEP will help make the ASEAN region a new engine of growth in Asia.”

Joseph Mathews, a senior professor at BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said the RCEP has not only boosted ASEAN’s economy, but also helped narrow the development gap between rich and poor ASEAN countries.

„It has great potential for all member countries to expand their trade and investment relations and accelerate their economic recovery in the post-pandemic period,” he told Xinhua on Monday.

Mathews said the RCEP provides new business and employment opportunities, strengthens supply chains in the region and promotes the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in regional value chains and manufacturing hubs.

“This has given SMEs and startups an opportunity to reach larger economic markets,” he said.

„Thanks to lower tariffs, trade barriers and improved market access, I think trade between ASEAN members and RCEP dialogue partners has increased manifold,” he added.

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