Japan cabinet okays RCEP trade deal


The accord still leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc

Japan’s cabinet on Wednesday gave nod to a bill to ratify a free trade deal (FTA) signed last year by 15 Asia-Pacific countries.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will cover a third of global trade and population, making it the world’s largest FTA, will become the “foundation of trade in Asia,” Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told a press conference on the matter.

“To establish a desirable economic order in the region through the steady implementation of this agreement, I hope that it will be approved by parliament at an early date,” Kajiyama also said.

1159385 Caption: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses the signing ceremony of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits via video conferences in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 15, 2020

The trade deal was signed last November and will see tariffs eliminated on 91 per cent of goods, with standardised rules pertaining to investment, intellectual property and e-commerce.

The RCEP groups the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

After the agreement is ratified by six ASEAN members and three non-ASEAN signatory countries, the RCEP will come into effect.

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