Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP)

1. Signed: 15 November 2020

2. Effective date: 01 January 2022

3. Purpose: The objective of the RCEP Agreement is to establish a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development. It is expected to eliminate about 90% of the tariffs on imports between its signatories within 20 years of coming into force, and establish common rules for e-commerce, trade, and intellectual property

4. Coverage: all industries

5. General overview

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement is an agreement to broaden and deepen ASEAN’s engagement with Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. Together, these RCEP participating countries account for about 30% of the global GDP and 30% of the world population, making it the largest trade bloc in history

Modern. The RCEP Agreement is an agreement not made just for today but is also an agreement for tomorrow. It updates the coverage of the existing ASEAN Plus One FTAs (ASEAN’s FTAs with the five dialogue partners) and takes into consideration changing and emerging trade realities, including the age of electronic commerce, the potential of micro, small and medium enterprises, the deepening regional value chain, and the complexity of market competition. The RCEP Agreement will complement the World Trade Organization (WTO), building on the WTO Agreement in areas where the Parties have agreed to update or go beyond its provisions.

Comprehensive. The RCEP Agreement is comprehensive, in terms of both coverage and depth of commitments. On its coverage, the RCEP Agreement comprises of 20 Chapters and includes many areas that were not previously covered in the ASEAN Plus One FTAs. The RCEP Agreement has specific provisions covering trade in goods, including rules of origin; customs procedures and trade facilitation; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures; and trade remedies. It also covers trade in services including specific provisions on financial services; telecommunication services; and professional services, as well as the temporary movement of natural persons. In addition, there are chapters on investment; intellectual property; electronic commerce; competition; small and medium enterprises (SMEs); economic and technical cooperation; government procurement; and legal and institutional areas including dispute settlement. In terms of market access, the RCEP Agreement achieves liberalisation in trade in goods and services and has extended coverage to investment. 

High-Quality. The RCEP Agreement contains provisions that go beyond the existing ASEAN Plus One FTAs, while recognising the individual and diverse levels of development and economic needs of the RCEP Parties. The RCEP Agreement addresses the issues required to support the Parties’ engagement in global and regional supply chain and complements market access commitments with trade and investment enabling rules that are business- FINAL Page 2 of 10 facilitating while at the same time preserving legitimate public policy objectives. The RCEP Agreement strives to boost competition in a way that drives productivity, which is sustainable, responsible, and constructive. In addition, the RCEP Agreement has the added value of bringing together a single rulebook to help facilitate the development and expansion of regional supply chains among Parties. 

Mutually beneficial. The RCEP Agreement brings together countries with diverse levels of development. Thus, the RCEP Parties have recognised that its success will be determined by its ability to mutually bring benefits. The RCEP Agreement is designed to achieve this objective in a number of ways, including through appropriate forms of flexibility and provisions for special and differential treatment especially for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam, as appropriate, and additional flexibility for the least developed Parties. In addition, the RCEP Agreement includes technical cooperation and capacity building that will be made available to support the implementation of commitments made under the RCEP Agreement and for the Parties to maximise the benefits accruing therefrom. The RCEP Agreement also includes provisions that will ensure that economies with different levels of development, businesses of differing sizes, and the broader stakeholders can all benefit from the Agreement.

6. Revision versions

- No revision