Agreement on the text of RCEP is a significant milestone. Negotiations on market access will continue, with the aim for the full agreement to be concluded and signed in 2020.

Update

Leaders of 16 countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have announced the completion of negotiation on the text as well as agreement on virtually all market access issues between 15 countries.

This is a significant milestone, announced on 4 November 2019 by RCEP countries at the East Asia Summit in Bangkok. India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved. All RCEP countries will work together to resolve these outstanding issue in a mutually satisfactory way. India’s final decision will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues.

Overview

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has the potential to be a game changer for regional trade, anchoring New Zealand in a regional agreement with half the world’s population and markets that take more than half our total exports.

At a time of considerable international trade policy turbulence – tariff retaliation, the sharpest rise in protectionism since 1995 – being part of this agreement is important to secure New Zealand’s prosperity in the region.

Which countries are in RCEP?

There are 16 countries involved in RCEP: the 10 members of ASEAN—Brunei-Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam plus the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements—Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. These six countries are known as the ASEAN free trade partners.

RCEP is a route to secure a free trade relationship with India, a fast growing economy with a nominal GDP of more than US$2.7 trillion. It also offers opportunities to improve on our existing free trade agreements with the other RCEP participants.  

Map of RCEP partners

First steps

RCEP was launched in November 2012 as an ASEAN (external link) initiative.

The Joint Leaders’ Summit Statement on RCEP issued on 14 November 2017 called for negotiators to intensify negotiations in 2018. Leaders reiterated that RCEP would “support job generation, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation, which would ultimately improve the living standards of our people. “

RCEP countries are to deliver an agreement that is modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial, as envisioned in the Guiding Principles and Objectives for the RCEP Negotiations (‘Guiding Principles’) which Leaders endorsed when they launched negotiations. 

Highlights of RCEP

This agreement will provide improved access for New Zealand service exports and investors into the largest ASEAN countries and China. While RCEP is expected to offer limited additional tariff preferences for exports to the 14 countries with which New Zealand  has existing FTAs, the regional integration impact is likely to increase demand for New Zealand inputs into regional supply chains.  

RCEP also has the potential to provide us a free trade relationship with India, a large and fast-growing US$2.7 trillion economy.   New Zealand is continuing to work closely with India to seek to agree a market access outcome that is commercially meaningful and which will enable India to join the other RCEP parties.

RCEP is a comprehensive agreement, covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, e-commerce (digital trade), government procurement, dispute settlement/legal and institutional issues. Find out more about key outcomes

Protecting rights

Our negotiators have preserved the Treaty of Waitangi exception in the RCEP agreement. This exception has been in every New Zealand free trade agreement since 2001.

The RCEP agreement expressly recognizes the right of the New Zealand government to regulate for legitimate public welfare objectives, in a range of critical areas including health, conservation of exhaustible natural resources, public morals, security and taxation.

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will not apply to New Zealand in RCEP.   

Share your views

Anyone with an interest in or questions about this agreement is welcome to get in touch

Email  FTA_Outreach@mfat.govt.nz

Mail
FTA Implementation Unit 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
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