Australian farmers and businesses are set to benefit from better export opportunities with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement between Australia and 14 other Indo-Pacific countries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the signing of the long-awaited agreement signalled the region’s shared commitment to open trade and investment, despite the challenges of COVID-19.
“Our trade policy is all about supporting Australian jobs, boosting export opportunities and ensuring an open region with even stronger supply chains. RCEP builds on our trade successes and is good news for Australian businesses,” the PM stated.
One in five Aussie jobs rely on trade
“With one in five Australian jobs reliant on trade, the agreement will be crucial as Australia and the region begins to rebuild from the COVID 19 pandemic.
Morrison said the agreement covered the fastest-growing region in the world and, as the economies covered by the region continued to develop and their middle classes grew, it would open up new doors for Australian farmers, businesses and investors.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said RCEP would be the world’s largest free trade agreement and create improved export opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses, especially in the services sector.
Further integration for nation’s exporters
“This deal will further integrate Australian exporters into a booming part of the globe, with RCEP countries making up nearly 30% of world GDP and the world´s population,” Birmingham noted.
“[The agreement] has been driven by the 10 ASEAN nations, who collectively constitute Australia’s second largest two-way trading partner and have successfully brought Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea into this regional trading block with them.
“This agreement may have taken eight years to negotiate, but it could not have come at a more important time given the scale of global economic and trade uncertainty.”
Committed to the principles of open trade
Birmingham said economic cooperation of this scale sent a strong signal that the region is committed to the principles of open trade for the post COVID-19 recovery.
“Greater openness within our region, as well as the greater integration of value chains and more common rules of origin which this deal delivers, will make it easier for Australian businesses and investors to operate throughout our region, helping Australia to continue to grow our exports,” he stated.
“There are particular gains for Australian providers within the financial services sector, education, health, engineering and other professional services, who can become better integrated within the region and have more access within [these] countries.”