RCEP to pave the way for economic recovery

From left: Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Azmin observing the closing ceremony of the 37th Asean Summit on Nov 15 hosted virtually by Vietnam. – fotoBERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is now officially part of the historic Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) along with 14 other RCEP participating countries.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, who signed the RCEP agreement last Sunday on behalf of Malaysia as International Trade and Industry Minister, said the pact was the highest point at the 37th Asean Summit hosted virtually by Vietnam.

The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“This partnership marks the amalgamation of existing agreements between Asean and the free trade agreement (FTA) individual partners, making RCEP the largest FTA in the world covering nearly one-third of the world’s population and will contribute to one-third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), ” said Azmin.

“The region’s economic recovery post-pandemic was high on the agenda and was discussed extensively at both the Asean leaders and the Asean economic ministers’ level, ” he said.

The RCEP is an Asean-driven initiative that aims to integrate economically the 16 countries in Asia and Oceania.

The leaders of the RCEP participating countries agreed that the partnership shall involve broader and deeper engagement with significant improvements over existing Asean FTAs and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPs).

“Throughout the meetings, Malaysia reinforced our commitment towards fortifying stronger partnership with the other Asean member states, to ensure sustainable economic recovery in the region.

“Now, more than ever, the need is high to intensify intra-Asean trade and investment as well as accelerate the region’s digital transformation to boost the economy and improve societal wellbeing of the region, ” said Azmin.

The Asean Summit this time also saw Malaysia and other member states sign on Nov 10 the memorandum of understanding on the implementation of non-tariff measures on essential goods and the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

The MoU, which covers 152 identified essential goods in the categories of food, medicines and medical appliances/devices, is aimed at facilitating the movement of essential goods to ensure an unobstructed supply chain within the region.

Azmin stated that the MoU is reflective of Asean’s determination to preserve centrality and solidarity, as well as to boost efforts to expedite economic recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

“There is also the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its implementation plan which will serve as a guide to Asean for economic recovery.

“Under the ACRF, Accelerating Inclusive Digital Transformation focuses on speeding up digital transformation in the region by leveraging on the momentum and imperative of digital transformation and seizing the enormous opportunities presented by digital technologies to boost the economy and improve society post-Covid-19.

“This includes the digitalisation of trade documents and processes for a seamless and uninterrupted supply chain, ” said Azmin.

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