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Trade pact for region hailed

Reduced tariffs under RCEP will help revive battered economies, experts say

The signing of the world’s largest free-trade agreement will support the efforts of Asia-Pacific nations to rebuild their pandemic-hit economies and further integrate operations, analysts said.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, signed on Sunday by 15 Asia-Pacific economies will progressively reduce tariff rates, eliminate trade barriers and bolster investments among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute, said the deal is important as it is “the first and biggest mega-FTA (free-trade agreement) signed”.

Somkiat said the trade pact’s signatories include two of the world’s biggest economies in China and Japan, and Southeast Asia, one of the fastest growing regional economies.

“The signing of RCEP signifies that the region is committed to free trade and rule-based trade regime,” he said.

The RCEP encompasses the supply chain across the East Asian and Southeast Asian regions, home to key manufacturing and exporting countries that can benefit from intraregional tariff reduction programs, Somkiat said.

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