Signing of RCEP marks milestone in ASEAN history: official hinh anh 1ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi (Source: VNA)

Jakarta (VNA)ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said the bloc had a momentous day when leaders of its member states, Australia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand witnessed the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.

He called the signing a historic event “as it underpins ASEAN’s role in leading a multilateral trade agreement of this magnitude, despite global and regional challenges and eight years of negotiations.”

“RCEP will give a much-needed boost for a swift and robust recovery for businesses and peoples in our region particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis,” the official added.

RCEP is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s biggest free trade pact to date, covering a market of 2.2 billion people with a combined size of 26.2 trillion USD or 30 percent of the world’s GDP.

The deal, upon entry into force, will improve market access with tariffs and quotas eliminated in over 65 percent of goods traded. Having 20 Chapters, 17 Annexes and 54 schedules of commitments covering market access, rules and disciplines, and economic and technical cooperation, it will make business predictable with common rules of origin and transparent regulations. This will encourage firms to invest more in the region, including building supply chains and services, and to generate jobs.

Negotiations of RCEP, beginning in 2013, were led by Iman Pambagyo, Director-General of Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade, and were supported by the ASEAN Secretariat.

The virtual signing of the pact by ministers of countries involved took place following the conclusion of the 4th RCEP Summit on November 15, as part of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits hosted by Vietnam./.