Australia - RCEP
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is an arrangement for free trade that encompasses the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and joins them with their six free trade agreement partners. Although, the RCEP was first proposed in 2011, during the 19th ASEAN summit held in Bali, Indonesia, it wasn’t until 2012 during the 21st summit in Cambodia that joint declaration for the launch of negotiations formally began. During this summit, the leading members of ASEAN and the “plus six” partners sanctioned the guiding principles and objectives for negotiating the RCEP. These such negotiations resulted in eight guiding principles that included trade in goods, services, intellectual property, technical and economic cooperation (including, investment, competition, dispute settlement and other issues (ASEAN). Thanks to the successful first round of negotiations that began May 2013 in Brunei, three more rounds of negotiations ensued with the most recent of which occurring April 2014 in China.
The overall aim of the RCEP negotiations is to accomplish a comprehensive and modern economic partnership that demonstrates high-quality and a visible, mutual benefit to all of the countries involved. Theses participating countries account for around 48% of the world population (approximately 3.5 billion people) and about 30% of the global GDP. These countries hope to finalize and conclude all current negotiations by the end of 2015 to ensure healthy economic growth amongst its partnering members. Australia, as well as the other 15 countries that encompass the RCEP, has great potential to receive many significant opportunities delivered by the completion of a successful agreement.
Nine out the 12 countries that make up Australia’s top trading and investment partners (Thailand, Malaysia, India, Japan, Indonesia, China, R.O.K., Singapore and New Zealand) have also been partaking in the recent RCEP negotiations. The ASEAN nations, together with the plus six participating countries, attribute to nearly 60 percent of Australia’s two-way trade and approximately 70 percent of its goods and services exports, which is now valued at $358.3 billion (DFAT). During the past ten years of trade with ASEAN and its other five FTA partners, Australia has seen a notable annual growth of 10.6 percent and an overall annual growth of 7.8 percent in its two-way trade. Australia’s economy also stands to benefit in its manufacturing, services, resources and agricultural sectors from their recent investment and trade interests with the RCEP.
Although, Australia’s existing relationship with the major members of the RCEP remains to be a strong one, the absence of a formal investment and trade policy has created extensive barriers for Australia’s investors, service suppliers and goods exporters. More specifically, these barriers have affected trade in goods by remaining substantial...