Nov 14, 2020 / 16:59

World’s largest trade deal set to be signed in Hanoi on Sunday

The conclusion of the RCEP is particularly meaningful for Vietnam as the ASEAN Chair in 2020, which has put much effort to help complete the long-awaited deal.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest free trade deal, is scheduled to be signed on Sunday in the framework of the ongoing 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits held in Hanoi from November 9 – 15, amid global trade tensions.

 Banners advertising the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits hung at a government building in Hanoi. Photo: TG&VN

The trade deal, which comprises 15 nations including major economies such as India, China, and 10 ASEAN countries, would make up nearly 50% of the world’s population, about 30% of global GDP, or US$28 trillion, and 28% of total trade turnover.

Director General of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade Luong Hoang Thai expected the signing of the RCEP would help reduce or remove import tariffs for industrial and agricultural products.

The move would help boost exports among signatories, especially between those with close trade relations, he noted.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung said the negotiations on the RCEP have been concluded. The 15 member countries are finalizing their respective internal procedures to ensure the signing of the deal on November 15.

As it took nearly eight years to complete the negotiation process, the RCEP shows a significant meaning to the region, especially during a global recession and disrupted supply chains as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Dung added.

In this context, the RCEP is expected to serve as a driving force for greater trade cooperation in the region, especially among the member countries.

The conclusion of the RCEP is particularly meaningful for Vietnam, the ASEAN Chair in 2020, which has put much effort to help complete the long-awaited deal, Mr. Dung asserted.

Mr. Dung looks forward to countries finalizing all required procedures so that the deal would be signed tomorrow and open new opportunities for ASEAN, including Vietnam.

Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said Vietnam, in the quality of ASEAN Chair, is responsible for playing an active role in boosting regional economic recovery and securing sustainable growth.

To further promote cooperation and development, Mr. Anh expected more efforts to realize the vision of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2025.

RCEP signing shows ASEAN central role

Leaders of the Asia – Pacific region are scheduled to attend the 4th RCEP summit on November 15 under the online platform and sign the deal, which is also the first trade deal that include all three major East Asian economies namely Japan, South Korea, and China.

Minister Anh said the signing of the RCEP would help local enterprises expand their export markets, join new regional value chains, and attract more foreign investment capital.

Regarding the significance of the RCEP, Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam Catherine Wong commented that the signing of the deal sends a message on the central role of ASEAN while solidifying the belief on the stability and economic integration in the region.

As the world economy is falling into recession, it is essential for ASEAN to show to the world that the bloc remains focused on doing business and creating favorable conditions for foreign investment and trade, the ambassador asserted.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, director of the WTO Center under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said for Vietnam, the RCEP would help the country import cheaper input materials for production.

Vietnam imports around US$30 billion annually in input materials from ASEAN and records huge trade deficits with major markets such as China and South Korea, Trang added.