Australia Asia Trade Agreement
RCEP is the first free trade agreement between China, Japan and South Korea, three of Asia`s four largest economies.  At the time of signing, analysts predicted that this would help stimulate the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, „bring the economic center of gravity back to Asia,“ and amplify the U.S. economic and political decline.    The participants in the pact are the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their five free trade agreement partners: Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. >>Voiceover: China, Japan and South Korea each have unique characteristics, customs and business practices. Austrade has the people, knowledge and resources to help you find your way to success in these markets. Australia has signed the historic Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement. The decision was announced on November 15 in a joint statement by the Honourable Scott Morrison, Prime Minister, and the Honourable Simon Birmingham, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment. The negotiation of the agreement lasted eight years. RCEP comes into force 60 days after six of the 10 ASEAN countries and three of the other five Asia-Pacific countries deposited instruments of ratification with ASEAN, which serves as the secretariat for the broader trading bloc. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) enters into force on 1 January and establishes common rules for trade in goods and services, intellectual property, electronic commerce and competition. RCEP members represent nearly a third of the world`s population and account for nearly 30% of the world`s gross domestic product.
The new free trade bloc will be more important than the agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada and the European Union.  The combined GDP of potential RCEP members exceeded the combined GDP of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in 2007. It has been suggested that continued economic growth, particularly in China and Indonesia, could lead to the total GDP of the original RCEP members reaching more than $100 trillion by 2050, about twice the size of the projects of the TPP economies.  On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum in which he removed the United States from the TPP, a measure aimed at improving RCEP`s chances of success.  At the signing of the RCEP, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared it a „victory for multilateralism and free trade.“  Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called it „a big step forward for our region“ and a sign of support for free trade and economic interdependence.  SYDNEY – The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement will enter into force on January 1, according to the Australian government, the agreement to facilitate trade liberalization and economic integration in Asia and the Pacific. It also aims to promote the optimization of supply chains within the free trade area, which accounts for about 30% of the world`s production, trade and population. Citing the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as „an essential part of the global economy,“ he said that „the double ratification by New Zealand and Australia of the ASEAN-led RCEP agreement demonstrates the strong relationship we share with ASEAN.“ MELBOURNE, 3. November (Reuters) – Australia has joined New Zealand in ratifying the world`s largest free trade agreement between Southeast Asian countries and their major trading partners, ministers from both countries said. SYDNEY/TOKYO/BEIJING — The world`s largest free trade agreement is set to enter into force on Jan. 1, lowering tariffs on countries such as Japan, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. With the phasing out of many tariffs under RCEP, it will take some time for the pact to have a full impact on regional trade.
The agreement aims to reduce tariffs and bureaucracy. It contains uniform rules of origin across the bloc that can facilitate international supply chains and trade in the region.   It also prohibits certain tariffs. It does not focus on trade unions, environmental protection or government subsidies.  RCEP is a regional free trade agreement that will build on Australia`s existing free trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia`s participation will improve export access and supply chain opportunities for Australian companies in 14 Indo-Pacific countries. „RCEP will strengthen Australia`s trade relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and signal our commitment to the ASEAN-led regional economic architecture,“ the statement said. The agreement could enter into force after being ratified by Australia and New Zealand, Dan Tehan, Australia`s Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, said in a statement on Tuesday. Phil Twyford, New Zealand`s Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, on Tuesday confirmed Wellington`s ratification of the pact, calling it a measure that will further accelerate the country`s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan`s Foreign Ministry welcomed the latest developments, saying in a statement that it hoped the agreement „will contribute to the economic growth of Japan and the region by further strengthening the bond between Japan and the region as a center of global growth.“ China applied to join the CPTPP in September. „China`s compliance with RCEP will be one of the tools we can use to assess its CPTPP membership,“ a Japanese trade negotiator told Nikkei on Wednesday. RCEP aims to lift tariffs on 91% of goods and standardize rules on investment, intellectual property and e-commerce, as well as other business practices.
RCEP is not as comprehensive as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, another free trade agreement in the region that includes some of the same countries.  RCEP „does not establish uniform standards for labour and the environment and does not commit countries to opening up services and other vulnerable sectors of their economies.“  Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a separate statement that the agreement would strengthen the country`s trade relations with ASEAN, signaling its commitment to an ASEAN-led regional economic architecture. .