Interview: RCEP huge boost for economic growth in post-pandemic era

2020-11-20 15:10

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SINGAPORE, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- The recently-signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would be a huge boost for economic growth in post-COVID-19 pandemic era, a Singapore scholar said here in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"The timing of this partnership couldn't be better", said Cai Daolu, a visiting senior fellow of the National University of Singapore Business School.

Ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand signed the RCEP on Nov. 15, launching the world's biggest free trade bloc.

The signing of the RCEP would help the recovery of the economic loss of this pandemic, as the RCEP would be a huge boost for economic growth post-pandemic, he added.

For all the countries, rich or poor, developing or developed, they all need the optimal provision of health care equipment. So in the world where all the supply chains are so connected and intertwined, to maximize the provision of heath care products, "we need more trade," he noted.

Similarly, "if we want a speedy recovery, we need more trade of goods and services. So in a sense, trade is going to be the medicine for a speedy recovery," Cai said.

This partnership would effectively allow the 15 RCEP participating countries to take advantage of trade, he said, adding that it would allow these countries to take full advantage of their comparative advantages and to maximize the provision of goods and services, that in return, would be translated into higher economic growth, according to Cai.

"So it would increase the economic pie for everyone," he pointed out.

The RCEP participating countries represent about 30 percent of the global GDP and about 30 percent of the world's population. So it would enable all the members of this economic bloc to have access to a huge market, he said.

In his opinion, this is an important partnership for all the member states, including Singapore.

For Singapore, in addition to the reduction of tariffs to this huge market, it would also mean that non-tariff measures would be quite transparent for developed countries like Singapore.

There will be further protection for intellectual property. So that will allow Singapore to take full advantage of the investment in research and development as well as innovation, he added.

Naturally, the signing of RCEP would be a vote of confidence for openness, trade and international cooperation, as well as a vote of confidence for multilateralism in the world where some countries are closing their doors nowadays, he said.

As a consolidation of the economic bloc in the region, RCEP is a huge step forward for further cooperation and integration of the region, Cai said.
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