The brand new Comprehensive Regional Economic Association is a new milestone in not only regional but also global cooperation.
On November 15, the 10 member countries of ASEAN signed with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand the Comprehensive Regional Economic Association (RCEP for its acronym in English), a new milestone in cooperation not only regional but also global.
The 15 countries of the RCEP add 2,270 M people, a GDP of 26 trillion dollars and its trade and investments are equivalent to a third of the world total, factors that make this regional bloc the largest free trade zone on the planet.
Some of its members lead the world ranking of GDP per capita, while others rank below 130th place, indicating an unprecedented intra-bloc asymmetry.
It should be noted that RCEP’s merchandise trade openness level (zero tariff) exceeds 90%. In addition, the agreement provides for the negative list system in areas such as investment access, intellectual property, e-commerce and customs procedures, an advanced mechanism at the global level in terms of free trade.
Without a doubt, RCEP will reinforce the economic complementarity between its States Parties and will boost interconnectivity of its industrial and supply chains, in pursuit of regional revitalization and economic prosperity.
The Asian collaboration, born with the financial crisis of the 1990s and expanded in the face of the international financial crisis of 2008, has reached a new height in the face of the health emergency of COVID-19.
In this way, in the wake of almost a year of anguish and stagnation, RCEP members overcame the difficulties to reach this momentous agreement. The consensuses reached, which transcend the enormous political, economic, cultural and development gaps between its members, make RCEP an innovative feat that has demonstrated once again that globalization is an unstoppable process and that protectionism is a dead end that it has no future.
Essentially, RCEP constitutes an open FTA, that is, it admits the entry of new members. In this way, some analysts argue that extra-regional countries should seize the opportunity to join the economic circle of the Asia-Pacific region, which is in keeping with the interests of most Latin American countries as well as the opening-up purposes of RCEP. the aspirations of China and other members of this new Association.
It should be noted that China is also interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (CPTPP). At the recent APEC leaders’ meeting, President Xi Jinping stressed that the world is a community inseparable from the shared future, so the various countries must comprehensively deepen the international fight against the coronavirus, promote global economic recovery and seek a common horizon between Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world.
I am convinced that the signing of RCEP is a great step forward that will inject stability and certainty into the path of jointly building a more peaceful, just, progressive and prosperous world.
The author is Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Argentina