| Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh (R) signs RCEP on behalf of Vietnam. (Photo: Quang Hieu/VGP)
The region-wide trade deal which involves ten ASEAN countries, as well as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand, will contribute to nearly 30 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Products of 26.2 trillion USD and create a market covering nearly one third of the world’s population.
It is expected to back an open, inclusive and rule-based trade system and create a push for post-COVID-19 economic revitalisation among the member countries.
In his opening remarks at the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit held virtually on Sunday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed global and regional trade and investment flows, including the countries participating in RCEP talks.
The global and regional economies are facing huge obstacles and challenges caused by not only COVID-19 but also decreased global trade, he said.
“The conclusion of the negotiations of RCEP, the largest free trade agreement in the world, will send a strong message of ASEAN’s leading role in supporting the multilateral trade system, helping to create a new trading structure in the region,” PM Phuc said.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha praised the signing of this historic free trade agreement, saying RCEP was not only the largest free trade agreement in the world but was also characterised by its quality and standards, as well as its positive impact towards the upgrading of competitiveness and increase economic benefits for all members.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the signing of RCEP is "a victory of multilateralism and free trade".
With the largest participating population in the world, the most diverse membership and the greatest development potential, the free trade bloc will inject new impetus into regional development and prosperity, and contribute to global economic recovery and growth, Mr. Li said.