Before and after its establishment, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership faced many obstacles and criticisms. The main criticism is that China’s intention behind the creation of RCEP is to politically and economically exploit and control the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But in reality, the worst challenge to RCEP came from the United States, in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposed by former President Barack Obama.
For starters, the TPP excluded China, the second largest economy not only in Asia-Pacific but also in the world, and included only four of ASEAN’s 10 member states – Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
The TPP was an affront to ASEAN in that it violated the very principle of its establishment, namely to reject any politicization within ASEAN, particularly in terms of trade, and to exclude the largest economy from ASEAN and a Pacific country in the true sense of the term. : Indonesia.
As a result, ASEAN’s response to the TPP as a whole has not been enthusiastic. The TPP, however, did not take off because Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the free trade partnership.
Now Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, seems determined to start a new cold war against China and draw ASEAN to the side of the United States. Once again, ASEAN’s answer is negative.
Since 2012, when the proposal to establish RCEP was made, China and ASEAN have stepped up efforts to boost bilateral trade. Eventually, they finalized the RCEP deal, the largest free trade agreement in the world, and ensured that it came into effect on January 1 this year. In total, RCEP has 15 signatory states – 10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand – who have pledged to further expand trade, increase investment and pursue common development.
RCEP provides China with several advantages, including an abundance of growing trade and investment, a greater source of workers, more natural resources, a market of 700 million people, and opportunities to connect with other regions. , such as North America and the European Union via ASEAN. .
According to data from the General Administration of China Customs, from January to August, China-ASEAN trade reached 4.09 trillion yuan ($586.1 billion), up 14 percent year on year, accounting for 15 percent of the China’s total foreign trade. More importantly, ASEAN has become one of China’s biggest trading partners thanks in part to RCEP.
RCEP also provides ASEAN with various benefits, including better access to the Chinese market of 1.4 billion people and more trade and investment opportunities, which could increase employment and help developing economies ASEAN to accelerate their industrial modernization.
RCEP also created a common market system by eliminating many customs restrictions, removing many import and export trade barriers, and ensuring better market access for goods and services for businesses. A free market is created when 90% of goods traded by countries are exempt from taxes and natural resources and human resources are better exploited.
RCEP’s potential is limitless due to its win-win philosophy and the way it has handled market changes. On the other hand, in the Western-dominated global trade and investment system, zero-sum games and winner-takes-all politics have overwhelmed the rest of the world.
The unequal distribution of wealth across the world is the result of the enrichment of the developed countries of North America and Western Europe with the resources and labor of Asia, Africa and Europe. Latin America.
And that’s what RCEP aims to correct through its win-win philosophy of doing business. The success of RCEP is expected to win support around the world, including the people of North America and Western Europe.
The author is Dean of the Taima Journalism and Information Academy, Malaysia.
Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.