Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce said on Friday that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is ready to be signed in November, and is expected to take effect in the second half of next year.
At the 8th RCEP Ministers’ Meeting held on Aug. 27 through video conferencing, it was confirmed that the free trade agreement (FTA) would be signed at the 4th RCEP Summit during the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Vietnam in mid-November, said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the ministry’s Trade Negotiations Department.
Auramon said the signing method will be discussed with Vietnam as the chair of 10-member ASEAN in 2020.
“The RCEP agreement will enter into force only if at least half of or six ASEAN members and half of the non-ASEAN members (three out of six) enact it,” Auramon said. “As for Thailand, we must seek approval from the Cabinet. After that, there will be a process to seek approval from Parliament.”
She also confirmed that the RCEP deal is expected to come into effect as early as around the second half of 2021.
According to Auramon, RCEP will be the largest FTA in the world, comprising 16 member countries with a combined population of almost 3.6 billion (48.1 percent of world population), combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 28.5 trillion U.S. dollars (32.7 percent of world GDP) and total trade value of over 11.2 trillion U.S. dollars (29.5 percent of world trade).
Fifteen countries, with the exception of India, will sign the deal, Auramon said.
She said Thailand would at least gain from non-ASEAN members in many ways, such as China, South Korea and Japan.
Thailand will be able to open up new markets and reduce tariffs on Thai products, such as agricultural products, namely tapioca flour, fisheries, fruit juices, pineapple, coconut juice, paper and automotive parts, she said.
RCEP comprises 16 countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.