The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations are likely to be concluded next year following substantial progress this year.
A Joint Statement was issued by the Leaders of the 16 RCEP countries last week in Singapore, confirming negotiations have advanced to the final stage.
“When concluded, the Agreement will anchor New Zealand in a regional agreement with half the world’s population and markets that take more than half our total exports,” Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor said.
“It will also provide us a free trade relationship with India, a fast-growing economy with a GDP of more than 2.6 trillion in 2018.
“RCEP is a counterbalance to the rising protectionism that threatens the global rules-based trading system. Negotiations were launched in November 2012 and include 16 countries: New Zealand, Australia, the 10 countries of ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations), China, India, Japan and South Korea.
“Seven Chapters of the agreement have now been concluded including Government Procurement, Customs Procedures, Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures, and Standards and Technical Regulations – which will improve the trading conditions for New Zealand businesses into the RCEP economies.
“RCEP countries have worked intensively this year, under Singapore’s leadership as ASEAN host for 2018, to bring the agreement close to conclusion.
“There is a strong resolve to build on the current momentum and wrap up negotiations in 2019,” Damien O’Connor said.
Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva says she can only echo the Ministers’ comments that RCEP is a strategically important agreement for New Zealand and the region.
“In that regard, it is pleasing to hear that substantial progress is being made and there is a target to conclude next year,” she says.
While New Zealand already has free trade agreements with China and South Korea, and also Japan through CPTPP, she notes RCEP will also create a trade relationship with India.
“We can only hope that RCEP will address the high tariffs on red meat into that market,” she says.