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Domestic process urged for freshly inked RCEP

Updated: Nov 19,2020 20:43

Domestic procedures should keep up to implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement as scheduled, Premier Li Keqiang said at the State Council executive meeting on Nov 18.

The agreement was signed on Nov 15 at the 4th RCEP Summit held via video link by 15 countries, including 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Premier Li and other leaders of the countries attended and witnessed the signing ceremony.

"The more difficulties and challenges there are, the greater reform and opening-up should be," he said.

Its conclusion, launching the world's largest free-trade bloc, came after 19 ministerial meetings, 28 rounds of formal negotiations, and four leaders meetings over eight years.

The participating countries account for about 30 percent of the world's total population, GDP and trade, with their openness of trade in goods surpassing 90 percent, higher than that of member countries in the World Trade Organization.

Premier Li pointed out at the executive meeting that the COVID-19 epidemic is still raging globally, while the world economy is suffering a severe recession, global trade and investment are shrinking, and protectionism and unilateralism are on the rise.

The RCEP signing against that backdrop, he said, reflected the collective will of Asia-Pacific countries to safeguard, and also marked a victory of, multilateralism and free trade.

China boasts close ties with the other participating countries to RCEP in trade, economy and investment, the Premier said, adding that its signing will not only spur more mutual cooperation in those areas, but will help stabilize industrial and supply chains and deliver benefits to people of the countries concerned.

Global industrial chains and supply chains belong to "public goods", and maintaining their stability is a responsibility shared by all nations, the Premier said.

The signing of the RCEP agreement sent a strong signal to the world that relevant countries are taking joint efforts to safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains, Premier Li said.

Taking the signing of the agreement as an opportunity, all departments should further promote high-level institutional openness, he added.

Premier Li noted that the RCEP involves not only the tariff concessions, but facilitation in customs clearance and openness in trade and investment, in which China still has plenty of room for improvement.

The signing of the RCEP agreement will be beneficial to China's further opening-up, he added.

He said high-level openness may bring about fiercer competition, which is both a challenge and brings opportunities for Chinese enterprises.

He encouraged the enterprises to compete in a larger open market.

The Premier asked related departments to accelerate domestic steps necessary for implementing the RCEP agreement as scheduled to deliver on China's commitment as early as possible, and achieve win-win results in mutual opening-up.