Thailand is among fifteen Asia-Pacific countries to sign the world’s largest free-trade bloc titled the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) today, November 15, a Deputy Prime Minister confirmed this afternoon.
The RCEP groups 10 ASEAN member states and five of their FTA (Free Trade Agreement) partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. It aims to progressively establish a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment.
This agreement potentially combines the countries’ GDP of about 21.3 trillion USD, accounting for about 30 percent of global trade, and marks the largest trade bloc in the world at the moment. It was also being encouraged by former U.S. President Barack Obama until the following president, Donald Trump, announced his absence in 2017.
The negotiation, which was formally launched approximately eight years ago, was signed at the Vietnam-hosted virtual ASEAN Summit where Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha also attended and agreed to sign the agreement as a leader of Thailand.
Speaking after, a Deputy Prime Minister and the Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, told the Associated Press that the deal will significantly benefit Thailand’s economy, exports, and business investment.
Jurin stated: “We will benefit greatly especially on (1.) agricultural products such as starch, tapioca, pineapple, fishery products, (2.) food as in processed vegetables and fruit, juices, as well as other processed or canned food (3.) electrical products and other products related to plastics, papers, chemicals, automotive parts (4.) service, construction, and health business as well as entertainment business (5.) retail in which both private sectors and the government had to work together to welcome foreign business agencies to invest in Thailand.”
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Thailand has to thoroughly study relevant regulations of the RCEP before having the country ratified through each country’s own procedure. For Thailand, the requirements and regulations regarding free trade agreements must initially be approved at the national council meeting first before notifying other countries in the contract and waiting for their governments’ approval.
It is believed that the RCEP will put into effect within the signed countries, hopefully by the middle of next year. However, at least the government’s six ASEAN countries and three FTA groups have to ratify the agreement in order for the RCEP to be enforced, Jurin stressed.
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