Initiated by ASEAN in response to the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership, it is, in part, designed to leverage more value out of the existing five ASEAN free trade agreements with other RCEP countries and the plethora of bilateral FTAs negotiated over the past 15 years among the RCEP countries themselves. But RCEP has the potential to be much more than simply another mega-regional free trade agreement.
While the Asian economies are already highly integrated, it is an interdependence which has grown under the current global trading regime, not through bilateral or regional trading arrangements. Staggeringly, ASEAN, Japan, China, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand – which comprise the RCEP group – already had a bigger share of global GDP measured in real terms than the TPP countries in 2007. Bluntly put, the RCEP group is where the global economic dynamism is, and it is a massive opportunity for Australia and for the region.
Because China, India, Indonesia and other developing countries in Asia will have trouble joining the TPP in the foreseeable future, an ambitious and high-quality RCEP can help integrate the entire Asia Pacific region. But if it is to really maximise the value of economic integration and free trade, RCEP governments will need to go beyond negotiating a single-undertaking trade deal along TPP lines. A comprehensive RCEP can aspire to be a model for a global set of principles-based rules for managing trade and other forms of international commerce in the 21st century.
The numbers speak for themselves. Even at a lower rate of 6 per cent growth over the coming decade, the massive Chinese economy can still grow at two to three times the rate of global growth. India is on the way back towards its growth potential, upwards of 8 per cent over the next decade in which the young will be pouring into its labour markets.
The ambitions for reform in China, with enunciation of the leadership's supply-side and financial market reform agenda, and in India, under Modi's "make-in-India-in-open-competition-in-the-world" strategy are bold and well targeted. Delivery, however, seems less certain.
However, others feel RCEP leaves a lot of underlying issues hanging, as is evident from the agreement draft which has eight chapters compared to the much more comprehensive TPP's 30.
Read more: http://www.afr.com/opinion/the-regional-trade-deal-with-china-and-india-thats-twice-the-size-of-tpp-20160426-goeyzj#ixzz48EZ7ZXDF
Philippines to join regional trade pact talks next month
“Lead RCEP negotiator is Officer-in-Charge/Director Angelo [Salvador M.] Benedictos... It will be an interagency Philippine delegation, including relevant government agencies.,” Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. said in an e-mail interview.
Asked what the Philippines expects to achieve from the meeting in June, Mr. Cristobal said: “We expect to agree on the elements of the framework. The negotiating framework will cover the scope of the negotiations. For example, we can focus on core issues such as trade, services, and investments, or the framework may also cover other areas such as competition policy, intellectual property, etc.”
“For specific areas, we will also discuss modalities or agree on mechanics for negotiations -- e.g., flexibilities allowed for each party for exemptions; time period for liberalization, etc.,” Mr. Cristobal added.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged RCEP negotiating countries to decide whether to go with a “positive list” approach, identifying which goods and services to make trade commitments on, or a “negative list,” where countries enumerate what will be excluded.
Asked which areas will be listed by the Philippines under which approach, Mr. Cristobal said: “This will be subject to negotiations and would be difficult to predict. For example, ASEAN agreements used the positive list approach for services. For investments, ASEAN agreements utilize the negative list.”
“The main consideration, I believe, will be in terms of how easy will it be for ASEAN as a group or ASEAN partners to arrive at a consensus following the alternative approaches. This comes into play when we consider the timeline for concluding negotiations,” he said.
The RCEP was first proposed in 2011 by ASEAN. The first round of talks, however, only took place last year, but negotiating countries have since reached preliminary consensuses in tariff concessions, rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, among others.
The trade pact is expected to be concluded by the end of 2015.
Analysts have said the RCEP was more attractive to developing countries than the United States-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) given that the TPP requires much deeper liberalization from its members and commitments to protect labor rights, intellectual property right, and the environment, among others.
Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the RCEP
"RCEP: Reform Challenges and Key Tasks for the PH" (2013, PIDS)
"Taking ASEAN+1 FTAs towards the RCEP: A Mapping Study (2013, ERIA)
"AEC and RCEP in a changing global context..." (PECC)
"RCEP v. TPP: The Real Choices Facing ASEAN" (AEC)
"TPP vs RCEP: Control of Membership and Agenda Setting" (ADB)
"The TPP: Strategic Implications" (Congressional Research Service)
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Perspectives from China" (Draft-Columbia U.)
9th Round of Negotiations (Myanmar)