The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement could provide a “vital impetus” to drive the Cambodian economy to exit Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2028, according to the commerce minister on March 14.
Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak made the comment at a workshop titled “RCEP: Implications, Challenges and Future Growth of East Asia and ASEAN”, which was jointly organised by the Jakarta-based think tank Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and the commerce ministry’s Trade Training and Research Institute (TTRI), the ministry noted in a statement on March 15.
According to the ASEAN secretariat, the RCEP entered into force on January 1 in 10 of 15 member states – Cambodia, Australia, Brunei, China, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The pact then went into effect in South Korea on February 1, as reported by Yonhap News Agency.
Malaysia submitted its instrument of ratification (IoR) to the secretariat on January 17 – as confirmed by the New Straits Times citing the trade ministry – and the deal will be effective from March 18. The three remaining countries, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines – all ASEAN states – have yet to submit their IoRs.
The commerce minister underlined that the RCEP was not merely a garden-variety agreement, but a key driver of regional economic growth for during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sorasak said the deal would help to cushion the blow from growing global uncertainties, including stalled multilateralism at the World Trade Organisation,the increasing employment of unilateral protectionist policies among member states, and potential spillover from the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
“To Cambodia, the agreement constitutes a modern legal platform that inspires the country to opt for more liberalised FTAs [free trade agreements], using the RCEP as a model or threshold for liberalisation, and to undertake many reforms to feasibly keep its standards … in line with the pact, including in infrastructural, legal and institutional areas.
“This agreement is also a well-timed intervention in Cambodia’s quest for an LDC graduation, likely by 2028, and the country’s endeavours to achieve the upper middle income and high income statuses by 2030 and 2050, respectively,” he said.
Late last month, the World Bank (WB) noted that Cambodia ranked third in both real income gains and export growth among RCEP members.
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Author: May Kunmakara
Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Publication date: 15 March 2022