Key outcomes

The RCEP agreement provides better conditions for New Zealand services exporters and investors, reduce non-tariff barriers affecting New Zealand exporters and modernise our trading relationships.

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RCEP provides benefits for New Zealand goods and services exporters and investors.

Streamlines goods trade and reduces red tape 

New Zealand goods exporters can grapple with a complex web of different rules when they trade in the RCEP region. RCEP now provides a single rulebook, covering all 15 markets (once fully in force with all partners), which has the potential to significantly reduce complexity, and therefore compliance costs, for exporters.

RCEP provides commercial benefits to New Zealand goods exporters. These include enhanced trade facilitation measures and other provisions that respond to concerns raised by New Zealand businesses about non-tariff barriers impacting trade. These outcomes will lower compliance costs, reduce the time exporters spend waiting for goods to clear customs, and enhance transparency and predictability for businesses operating in the RCEP region. Some examples include:

  • RCEP creates an expectation that customs authorities will release ‘perishable goods’, such as seafood, within six hours of arrival including (in exceptional circumstances) release of such goods outside normal business hours which should reduce spoilage and save exporters money;
  • New Zealand exporters have the flexibility to choose from a variety of options for proof of origin documentation, including: third party issued certificates of origin, self-declaration by approved exporters and self-declaration by exporters and producers (subject to an implementation period);
  • Enhanced transparency on import licensing procedures, commitments to facilitate future tariff transpositions, and a consultation mechanism (with clear and predictable processes and timeframes) to address non-tariff barriers. 

RCEP does not deliver significant new market access for goods exports as a result of tariff cuts. This is because New Zealand has existing FTAs with all the RCEP signatories, which have already eliminated tariffs on most New Zealand exports. However, RCEP delivers additional tariff elimination on a number of New Zealand food products into Indonesia, including sheepmeat, beef, fish and fish products, liquid milk, grated or powdered cheese, honey, avocados, tomatoes and persimmons.

Benefits for services exporters

RCEP market access commitments in services sectors provide greater openness and certainty around the trade in services in the region. In a COVID-19 environment, making it easier for New Zealand service providers to deliver their services cross-border - with the provider based in New Zealand and the customer based in their home country – will be increasingly important.

RCEP provides new services commitments by some RCEP parties that go beyond existing FTAs. For example, New Zealand has gained commitments beyond those in the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) in key sub-sectors including professional services, computer related services, education services, environmental services, air transportation services, research and development services, and distribution services.

New Zealand services exporters have contended with a complex web of different rules when they trade in the RCEP region, having navigating up to nine sets of rules stemming from existing FTAs. RCEP establishes a consistent framework and a single set of services rules for the entire RCEP region. This will improve regulatory certainty and transparency for New Zealand service suppliers across the RCEP region as a whole, and give them greater confidence to enter these markets.

RCEP also provides New Zealand service suppliers with legal protections that guarantee market access and non-discriminatory treatment (unless subject to country specific exceptions, they are entitled to treatment equivalent to that given to local and foreign competitors).

Improved transparency and certainty around investment

Investors in the RCEP region benefit from rules in RCEP that represent advances over existing FTAs. This provides New Zealand investors in the RCEP region with protection from discrimination (compared to domestic or other foreign investors) and will enhance their ability to retain control of their investments.

In addition, China and ASEAN countries that are not party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have provided investment market access commitments for the first time to New Zealand.

At the same time, New Zealand was successful in excluding Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) from RCEP, and New Zealand’s schedule of commitments contains a number of exceptions which reserve policy space including for our investment screening regime under the Overseas Investment Act.

Modernises and deepens our trading relationships

RCEP includes chapters in a number of areas that are new for some RCEP countries and will modernise New Zealand’s trading relationships with these countries in line with our best practice from recent FTAs. These include commitments in the following areas; Electronic Commerce, Small and Medium Enterprises, Competition, Government Procurement, and Economic and Technical Cooperation.

Find out more in Modernising our trading relationships

RCEP’s outcomes on geographical indications (GIs) extend advantages previously secured in the CPTPP to a wider group of trading partners. A GI is a sign or name used to identify a good as originating in a territory, region or locality, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin – for example ‘champagne’. In particular, RCEP requires Parties to adopt or maintain due process and transparency obligations in respect of any regime they provide for the protection of GIs. This is important for a number of New Zealand producers who export products with names claimed as GIs by the European Union but considered generic in many other markets (for example the cheeses ‘feta’ and ‘parmesan’).

In addition, the RCEP Intellectual Property chapter goes further than any of New Zealand’s other FTAs in recognising genetic resources and traditional knowledge and folklore (GRTKF).


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