16 June 2017

RCEP can shape the international trade agenda, HSBC says

Mukhtar said RCEP had the potential to shape the international trade agenda, offering deep, large-scale trade liberalisation measures in goods, services and investment that cover roughly half of the world’s population, nearly 30% of global GDP and 30% of global foreign direct investment flows.

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Talks to deliver the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement have moved a step further and put the 16 nations negotiating its terms in a strong position to shape the international trade agenda, said Mukhtar Hussain, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bank Malaysia.

“Ensuring a swift conclusion to RCEP negotiations will help ensure international trade remains a prime driver of economic growth in Asia,” said Mukhtar.

“It is good to see that progress is being made in all areas of negotiations, that two out of 20 chapters of the RCEP Agreement – on economic and technical cooperation and on SMEs – have been concluded and that the remaining chapters are nearing conclusion,” he added.

The 3rd RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting was held on 21-22 May 2017 in Hanoi, Vietnam following the conclusion of the 18th round of negotiations held on 2-12 May 2017 in Pasay City, Philippines.

The ministerial meeting reaffirmed the commitment of all 16 negotiating nations to meet the mandate laid down by their national leaders to swiftly conclude the trade and investment talks between the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and six other economies in the Asia-Pacific – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The latest round of talks noted that the substantial conclusion of RCEP has been identified as a priority deliverable in 2017 – the year marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of ASEAN.

Mukhtar said RCEP had the potential to shape the international trade agenda, offering deep, large-scale trade liberalisation measures in goods, services and investment that cover roughly half of the world’s population, nearly 30% of global GDP and 30% of global foreign direct investment flows.

“RCEP has sufficient scale to shape the rules of trade across a large swath of the global economy. RCEP partners include nearly half of the global population and nearly a third of global GDP. The proposed agreement also offers participants potential access to three of the largest consumer markets in the world – ASEAN, China and India,” Mukhtar said.

RCEP encompasses the six countries with which ASEAN already has free trade agreements and will reduce the inconsistencies that currently exist between them, strengthening the appeal of ASEAN economies as a production base for international businesses.

“RCEP is an opportunity for Malaysia to boost trade liberalisation and economic integration. Malaysia, as a prominent ASEAN economy, can take this route to further strengthen trade with RCEP partners, while domestic companies can look forward to growing regionally,” added Mukhtar. 

“Additionally, in the long term, China’s Belt and Road initiative will tackle issues beyond transport and infrastructure (e.g. improved connectivity, customs co-operation, and trade policy co-ordination), while work on the ASEAN’s Blueprint 2025 on services trade can be advanced further. All these actions will benefit Asia,” concluded Mukhtar. 

HSBC’s international banking network provides access to more than 90% of global GDP, trade and capital flows. The network covers the world’s largest and fastest-growing trade corridors and economic zones and will be able to support clients to capture opportunities in the region.

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