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Staff members put stickers on fresh durians before exporting them to China at an export factory in Vietnam’s Dak Lak province, on September 17, 2022.            --Photo VNA Handout via Xinhua

One year on, RCEP bears fruit for trade, industrial integration

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- In a factory in Shenzhen, a manufacturing hub in south China’s Guangdong Province, machines run around the clock to turn colorful silk into elaborate outfits destined for Japan.
Thanks to reduced tariffs under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Shenzhen China Silk Enterprise was able to gain a foothold in the Japanese market. New orders kept its factory busy, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to sap global demand.
In Shanghai, a financial centre in east China, many locals had their first taste of Vietnamese coffee in a cafe opened by Vietnam-based Trung Nguyen Legend Group in September.
The cafe is the coffee company’s first flagship branch outside of Vietnam. Its “Trung Nguyen G7” brand has also been launched on e-commerce platforms and in physical supermarkets in China, facilitated by lower tariffs and easier import procedures for Vietnam-grown coffee beans.
The RCEP, the world’s largest free trade deal comprising 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, as well as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia and New Zealand, entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022.
Over the past year, the agreement has lowered the cost of trade, facilitated the integration of industrial chains, and benefited consumers in the region. Its enforcement has helped the recovery of the Asia-Pacific economy, offsetting strong headwinds from sluggish global demand, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and aggressive US interest rate hikes.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) shows that China’s trade with the other RCEP signatories expanded 7.9 percent year on year to 11.8 trillion yuan (about US$ 1.69 trillion) in the first 11 months of 2022, accounting for 30.7 percent of China’s total foreign trade value. Booming foreign trade has also been reported in some other member countries. Thailand’s trade with RCEP member countries, which accounts for around 60 percent of its total foreign trade, rose 10.1 percent year on year to US$ 252.73 billion in the first nine months of 2022.
For Japan, the RCEP has brought the country and its largest trading partner China into the same free trade framework for the first time.
Japan’s official data showed that the country’s exports of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and food hit 1.12 trillion yen (US$ 8.34 billion) for the 10 months through October last year. Among them, exports to the Chinese mainland increased by 24.5 percent from the same time a year earlier, ranking first in export volume.
“Introducing zero tariffs when there is a large volume of trade will have the most significant effect on trade promotion,” said Masahiro Morinaga, chief delegate of the Japan External Trade Organisation’s Chengdu office.
According to the RCEP, more than 90 percent of all merchandise traded in the region will eventually be subject to zero tariffs, an impetus for business celebrated by a growing number of companies.
Hao Zhiqiang, customs manager of Shandong Weihai Huanqiu Fishing Tackle Industrial Co., Ltd., has just printed an RCEP declaration of origin, so that their clients from the ROK can be exempted from paying US$ 1,570 in import duties for a batch of 500 fishing rods. Hao said the company issued over 100 such certificates in 2022.

(Latest Update January 3, 2023)

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