Singapore became the first participating country to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, a multi-nation trade pact that brings together the 10 ASEAN economies as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
The RCEP, an initiative led by China, is the world’s largest free trade agreement. On November 4 last year, India walked out of the mega free trade agreement as negotiations failed to address New Delhi’s outstanding issues and concerns.
“Singapore’s expeditious ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement signals Singapore’s strong commitment to strengthening our trade and economic linkages with our partners, for the benefit of our businesses and people,” Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said.
“We look forward to our fellow RCEP Participating Countries doing likewise, to expedite the entry into force of the agreement,” the minister said. Singapore has deposited its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of ASEAN, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
The RCEP was signed by the 15 participating countries in November last year. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had then said, “The RCEP is a major step forward for the world, at a time when multilateralism is losing ground and global growth is slowing.”
The RCEP deal establishes a mutually beneficial economic partnership that builds on existing ASEAN agreements with the bloc’s five FTA partners, said the MTI.
Comprising about 30 per cent of global gross domestic product and close to a third of the world’s population, the deal will complement Singapore’s existing network of FTAs and boost trade and investment flows, the ministry said.
These FTAs include India’s Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore and the ASEAN-India FTA.