RCEP around the corner as Malaysia poised to join world’s largest free trade deal

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Malaysia is poised to ratify the largest free trade agreement in the world, which is expected to provide market access for local industries to 2.2 billion people, opening a gateway to nearly a third of the global GDP of US$25.8 trillion.

The international trade and industry ministry said Malaysia would become the twelveth signatory to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement on March 18.

This will see Malaysia joining Singapore, China, Japan, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and South Kora which have already completed the ratification process.

“Within Asean, Malaysia is expected to be the largest beneficiary of the RCEP agreement in terms of gains in exports, with a projected US$200 million increase,” the ministry said in a statement.

Citing a report by UNCTAD published on Dec 15 last year, it said these gains would result from the elimination of tariffs and reduction for merchandise goods, including the facilitation of export and import of goods among RCEP countries.

“Service provides including e-commerce will be able to enjoy greater market access in terms of cross-border supply and establishing a commercial presence in RCEP markets,” it added.

It also said the RCEP would be a key enabler for the country in revitalising domestic and international business activities post-Covid-19.

“As a trading nation, Malaysia will continue to be an open economy, with business-friendly and pragmatic policies that foster a conducive investment climate in the country,” it said.