The RCEP agreement will provide better conditions for New Zealand services exporters and investors, reduce non-tariff barriers affecting New Zealand exporters and modernise our trading relationships.
The agreement will provide transparency and certainty around market access opportunities for New Zealand services exporters in RCEP markets. RCEP Parties have agreed to remove and/or not introduce discriminatory measures and certain market access restrictions (subject to country-specific exceptions).
The government’s right to regulate for legitimate public policy purposes continues to be protected and RCEP will not prevent New Zealand from introducing regulation to protect the creative arts sector.
RCEP is expected to deliver market access investment commitments from ASEAN countries that are not party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) and China, for the first time. This is an important outcome allowing New Zealand investor’s greater certainty around investing in RCEP countries, through increased transparency around the regulations affecting investment. Essentially New Zealand investors (and vice versa for foreign investors in New Zealand) will be treated the same as domestic or other foreign investors, except where exceptions apply.
The government’s right to regulate for legitimate public policy purposes continues to be protected as does New Zealand’s current foreign investment screening regime under the Overseas Investment Act. Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will not apply to New Zealand in RCEP.
RCEP establishes a single set of trade rules across all RCEP participants rather than different rules for each country.
The agreement improves the conditions of access for New Zealand exports, addressing concerns raised by New Zealand exporters around non-tariff barriers. These improvements include enhanced transparency, and improvements in chapters on customs procedures and Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures regarding goods trade. Examples of reducing red tape and compliance costs include:
- Treatment of perishable goods: establishes legally binding provisions requiring all countries to facilitate entry for perishable goods with six hours. Products include fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables.
- Rules of origin: New Zealand exporters can claim preferential origin on the basis of either the ‘value-add’ method or ‘change in tariff classification’ rules (reflecting New Zealand’s preferred approach).
The agreement also provides for a consultation mechanism, with clear and predictable processes and timeframes, to address non-tariff barriers.
The agreement will cover areas which are new for some RCEP participants, such as Electronic Commerce and government procurement, helping to modernise our trading relationships with RCEP countries.
The Electronic Commerce chapter facilitates e-commerce trade, which offers important opportunities for a small, distant trading country like New Zealand. The chapter also includes rules on consumer protection and personal information protection to protect New Zealand consumers engaging in e-commerce.
The provisions will also enable New Zealand to regulate to achieve legitimate public policy objectives (e.g. to ensure robust privacy and consumer protection safeguards) or implement measures in its essential security interests.
The inclusion of a chapter on Government Procurement reflects New Zealand’s ambition for RCEP to be a modern and comprehensive free trade agreement. The commitments are modest (primarily transparency and cooperation). The chapter provides a foundation on which to build closer economic ties concerning government procurement activity in the region.
The Competition Chapter will provide New Zealand businesses in the region with an increasingly stable and predictable business environment, and a more level playing field. The Chapter also provides for regional commitment to establish and enforce competition regimes, including the adoption of measures to prohibit anticompetitive activities. It allows for enhanced transparency of regional competition regimes, and increased protection for confidential information. It represents a regional commitment to measures which enhance consumer protection, and prohibit the use of misleading practices, or false and misleading descriptions.