Written by Guan Qiuyun / Translated by Wei Yingling
2022 marks the first year of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership and the entry into force of the the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). One thing worth mentioning is that with the launch of the Version 3.0 China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) soon, China and ASEAN will embrace new growth opportunities in cooperation.
On this special occasion, people are focusing on what new opportunities the RCEP will bring to China-ASEAN cooperation, whether the RCEP’s implementation would boost global economic recovery, and how relevant enterprises in the region will capitalize on the favorable policies to develop. The 19th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS) held in September this year hosted a number of high-level forums and promotional events and showed us many new highlights and opportunities.
From countries to the world, RCEP benefits more people
RCEP is a comprehensive, modern, high-quality, and reciprocal trade agreement that aims to lower tariff barriers and create a more open, integrated, and free market. According to the General Administration of Customs of China, China’s imports and exports with the other 14 RCEP members made an annual 7.5% increase in the first seven months of this year.
Aksornsri Phanishsarn, an associate professor in the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University, said in a media interview that RCEP members has removed duties on more than 39,000 import Thai goods, and the customs clearance time for perishable goods has been reduced to less than six hours. After joining the “Super Friend Circle” of RCEP, Thailand’s foreign trade import and export volume steadily improved, showing up with new signs of economic recovery.
Gao Yunlong, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Chairman of the Federation of Chinese Industry and Commerce (FICCI), delivered his video remarks at the 2nd RCEP Economic and Trade Cooperation Business Summit and Furthering RCEP Implementation Forum, calling for business and industrial communities of RCEP members to enhance collaboration and contribute to the further implementation of RCEP and economic recovery. FICCI is willing to strengthen interaction with business associations of RCEP members to boost deeper economic and trade cooperation between China and RCEP countries and build a closer community with a shared future.
Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN, called for attention on regional economic and trade cooperation at the CAEXPO. He noted that the business and industrial communities of RCEP members should take full advantage of RCEP to optimize production layout and achieve economies of scale, so as to better participate in the GVC division of labor.
“RCEP serves as a booster and a ‘locomotive’ with the strongest momentum for global economic development,” said Zhang Jianping, Head of the Center for Regional Economic Cooperation at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the 2nd Economic and Trade Cooperation Business Summit & Furthering RCEP Implementation Forum. He also noted that despite the severe impact brought by the anti-globalization trend on the world economy, cooperation in global value chains is becoming closer, and the economic growth generated by RCEP will not only benefit RCEP itself but also improves the world’s economic growth expectations.
Joining of Japan and ROK helps to optimize the layout
The implementation of RCEP is an East Asian Economic Circle initiative to uphold the multilateral trading system. The FTA which covers a population of more than 3 billion and accounts for one-third of the world’s GDP has a direction for development, and it will be of special significance to enhance business confidence and stabilize the global economy.
Zhuang Guotu, Distinguished Professor at Xiamen University and Chairman of China Southeast Asian Research Association, believes that compared to the CAFTA, RCEP has expanded cooper at ion a mong Asia-Pacif ic countries by including developed countries such as Japan and ROK, which helps enterprises to strengthen collaboration and to better interface with each other, as well as to optimize industry chain layout.
Junichiro Nakatsuka, Vice President of the Japan Chamber of Commerce in China and General Representative of Mitsubishi Corporation for East Asia, who has participated in the CAEXPO many times, stated at the “Guangxi Tour for Japanese Companies 2022” that the implementation of the RCEP has made it possible for both sides to develop cooperation in the third-party market.
“Chinese enterprises can apply digital innovation in Southeast Asia and integrated it with Japanese enterprises’ advantages of supply chain management and the appeal of local enterprises to collaborate in sectors like non-fossil energy conversion, hydrogen energy utilization, and power storage equipment activation, to achieve tripartite benefit and further improve the stability of regional value chains,” Junichiro Nakatsuka said.
As the representative of ROK, General Representative(China) of Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) Hong Chang Pyo stated at the “Guangxi Tour for Korea Companies” that ROK and China would usher in new business opportunities under RCEP. As a logistics hub linking Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, Guangxi would further leverage its geographical advantage to become a gateway for Korean and Chinese companies to jointly enter the ASEAN market.
In fact, in order to strengthen the exchange between Korean and Guangxi enterprises, the KOTRA signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the CAEXPO Secretariat in 2021 and actively organized enterprises to participate in the 19th CAEXPO. At the same time, it made great preparations for the 2022 Guangxi Tour for Korean enterprises, aiming to find new business partners and cooperation opportunities for enterprises from both countries and further promote trade and investment exchanges and cooperation between the two sides.
As close neighbors, China, Japan, ROK, and ASEAN shared a long history of friendly exchanges and close economic and trade ties. The implementation of RCEP has undoubtedly built up more favorable conditions for the development of cooperation among enterprises in China, Japan, ROK, and ASEAN countries. Under this new situation, it is believed that China-Japan ROK-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation will be able to gain greater development on a larger platform.
CAEX PO assists smal l- si zed enterprises in cultivating RCEP’s large market
The RCEP Special Training Programs for SMEs was held during the 19th CAEXPO in Nanning, Guangxi. The program was conducted in the form of offline expert lectures and live online, with the goals of further enhancing enterprises’ understanding and application of the RCEP agreement, guiding them to make good use of favorable policies, improving their ability in participating in inter national competition and cooperation, actively exploring the RCEP regional market, and encouraging their participation in the integrated development of regional industry chains and supply chains.
At the meeting, focusing on the interpretation and practice of RCEP rules, professionals and scholars gave lessons on the interpretation of RCEP market access and rules of origin for trade in goods, interpretation of RCEP rules of origin and customs clearance practices, RCEP trade in services, investment market access commitments and rules interpretation, RCEP petrochemical industry, electronic information industry, and construction machinery industry exchanges and enterprise case sharing, RCEP tariff concessions comprehensive application program, and introduction of further implementation of RCEP in Guangxi. The participants also expressed that through the training, they have fully recognized the large market and the huge opportunities brought by the high-quality practice of RCEP rules to enterprises. Implementing the rules with high quality and expanding the new possibilities of collaboration will further promote cooperation among RCEP countries in trade, investment, digital economy, and other areas. Also, it will accelerate the integration and safe development of cross-border industrial and supply chains, so as to help to accelerate the formation of a “dual circulation” development pattern with domestic circulation being the mainstay and the two circulations reinforcing each other, and to achieve high-quality economic development.
Additionally, with the goal of further assist enterprises in the region to better tap into the RCEP market, 40 business associations from RCEP member countries jointly launched the “Nanning Initiative on Further Implementation of RCEP for Higher Level Regional Economic Integration” at the forum. The initiative aims to help enterprises, especially SMEs, to comprehensively enhance their ability to use RCEP to expand international markets.
The initiative expects RCEP member countries to attach great importance to the development of SMEs and to actively encourage SMEs to take advantage of RCEP opportunities to expand into new markets. It helps enterprises to understand the needs, investment-related laws, and regulations of different markets in the region through training and lectures, encourages enterprises to fully integrate the expansion of economic and trade cooperation and high-quality implementation of RCEP into their international business strategies, and helps enterprises, especially SMEs, to fully enhance their ability to use RCEP to expand into the international market.
The significance of enterprises which are the main body of the market is self-evident. As an important platform for China-ASEAN cooperation, CAEXPO will continue to work hand in hand with all parties to create more cooperation opportunities for enterprises in the region and strive to improve itself to serving RCEP.