Australia ratifies landmark RCEP agreement

Canberra:¬†Australia on Wednesday announced that it has ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which will take effect next year as the world’s largest free trade agreement (FTA).

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said in a statement that RCEP would be a major boost for the country’s economy, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Australia has ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, ensuring that our farmers and businesses are able to access the benefits of what will be the world’s largest free trade agreement,” according to the statement.

The 15 signatories to the agreement — 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea and Japan — account for approximately 30 per cent of the world’s population and global gross domestic product (GDP).

It is designed to remove tariffs on as much as 90 per cent of goods traded between the countries and standardise rules on investment and e-commerce.

“When in force for all 15 signatories, RCEP will be the world’s largest free trade agreement, bringing nine of Australia’s top 15 trading partners into a single economic framework,” the statement said.

RCEP will enter into force 60 days after ratification by at least six ASEAN states and at least three non-ASEAN countries, according to the statement.

“That milestone was reached on November 2 with ratification by Australia and New Zealand, which will pave the way for RCEP to enter into force on January 1 2022,” it said.

Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Phil Twyford announced on Wednesday that the country has also ratified the deal to unlock huge economic benefits for exporters and businesses, as well as new market access.

Representatives from the 15 countries signed RCEP in November 2020.

The signing came after more than 30 rounds of negotiation, which was launched in November 2012, as well as a number of specific leaders and ministerial meetings between the participating countries.