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ASIA: RCEP to bring 'explosive growth,' fierce competition among parties

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement has been ratified by China and it is hoped that other member countries can speed up their progress and finally reach the threshold of entry into force, Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao said Monday.

"The sooner the agreement comes into force, the sooner the people of the member countries will benefit," Wang said on the sidelines of the annual national legislative session.

The agreement signed by 15 Asia Pacific countries in November 2020 needs to be ratified by six ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and three non-ASEAN member countries to enter into effect.

The signatories hope that the world's biggest free trade bloc, covering roughly 30 percent of both the global GDP and population, will be a boost for pandemic-hit economies across the region by progressively phasing out 90 percent of the tariffs on imports between signatories, as well as organizing multi-country supply chains and codifying new e-commerce rules.

It is expected to raise trade among members by $428 billion, add $500 billion to global exports, and improve the national income of the 15 countries by $186 billion by 2030, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), a Washington-based think tank.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called the pact "a victory of multilateralism and free trade."

The deal is the culmination of Beijing's "decade-long quest for greater economic integration" with the region, Bloomberg reported last November.

It is forecasted to add $248 billion to Chinese global exports by 2030 and that exports in advanced manufacturing sectors will increase the most with over two-thirds of the increase from exports of electrical and electronic equipment, machinery and vehicles, according to the PIIE.

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