RCEP signing boosts Malaysia’s position

The agreement will promote, facilitate and protect the investment climate of participating countries within the region


THE signing of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement will not contribute to sustaining Malaysia as a preferred trading hub and investment destination, said Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture; right).

However, the minister of International Trade and Industry said the RCEP can be an economic recovery tool against Covid-19 which will help ensure opening of markets and uninterrupted supply chain.

“Service providers, including (those engaged in) e-commerce, will be able to enjoy greater market access in terms of cross-border supply and establish commercial presence in the RCEP markets,” he said.

RCEP will promote, facilitate and protect the investment climate of participating countries within the region.

“This also includes information exchange and promotion of transparency measures to facilitate business and investment within the RCEP area,” Azmin added.

Azmin, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Malaysian government yesterday, said this will also be a testament to the strengthening of the multilateral trading system, while also upholding the development agenda in the World Trade Organisation.

Being the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering 15 countries with 2.2 billion or nearly a third (29.7%) of the world’s population, RCEP represents US$24.8 billion (RM102.18 billion) or almost a third (28.9%) of the world’s GDP based on World Bank’s 2018 data.

Earlier, Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (left) said the RCEP agreement is critical for the region’s response in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Coupled with the challenges to the global trading system due to regional tensions, it is imperative for Asean to continue sustaining our competitiveness as a region,” he said in his speech during the virtual 4th RCEP Summit yesterday.

Bernama reported that Azmin reiterated the importance of having India come back and rejoin the trade pact as the country could play a pivotal role in providing prosperity in the region.

India’s addition, he said, would create bigger markets than 15 member countries, which now represent 28.9% of the world’s GDP.

“As much as we want India to rejoin, we appreciate it if they could address their domestic issue,” he said.

On the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership, he said Malaysia is not in position to conclude whether the multilateral agreement will make a comeback.

However, the country will continue to monitor closely with the new administration in the US under the leadership of President-elect Joe Biden, he said.

Meanwhile, HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd CEO Stuart Milne said the RCEP may prove to be the tonic Asia needs to recover from the pandemic-induced slump.

“Although international trade continues to face uncertainty, the signing of RCEP underscores the belief in market openness — that it will lead to greater economic growth for more,” Milne said in a statement.

“Intra-Asian trade, which is already larger than Asia’s trade with North America and Europe combined, will continue to power global economic growth and pull the economic centre of gravity towards Asia,” he added.

“We hope RCEP members will build on the progress they have made and further liberalise trade and investment in the region.”

Read our earlier report here