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RCEP, the world’s largest free trade agreement, enters into force

RCEP

On 1 January, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) came into force to give Australian farmers and businesses access to the world’s largest free trade agreement. 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan welcomed RCEP entering into force for Australia, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The Republic of Korea will follow on 1 February. 

“RCEP will help stimulate growth and investment across the region, providing increased opportunities for Australian business,” Tehan said. “With Australian-made products and services held in such high regard in these markets, RCEP is a fantastic opportunity for Australian businesses. 

“By streamlining requirements around rules of origin, RCEP will advantage local sourcing of goods and promote collaboration through regional value chains, which our businesses are primed to partake in. RCEP also delivers a range of improvements over our existing trade agreements in areas where RCEP economies have the greatest growth potential, such as services, digital trade and two-way investment.” 

RCEP will enhance Australia’s economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific through strengthened trade rules that build on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) and complement Australia’s bilateral agreements with RCEP parties and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). RCEP will further strengthen Australia’s trade relationship with ASEAN at a crucial point in ASEAN’s economic development. 

Another set of annual tariff cuts has also come into force for Australia’s free trade agreements, including the CPTPP and the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA). 

Australian bluefin tuna and Atlantic salmon exporters benefit from Japanese tariffs falling to 1.9 per cent under the CPTPP, while tariffs on sheep and goat meat exports fell by half to 2.25 per cent under KAFTA. 

“International trade is integral to business recovery from COVID-19,” Tehan said. 

“The entry into force of RCEP and further tariff cuts through our other free trade agreements will help create Australian jobs and foster economic growth for our nation.” 

Trade is essential to the Australian economy and accounts for one in five jobs, boosts GDP, and brings real benefits for business, employees, and Australian families.

“Under our government, 75 per cent of Australia’s trading markets are now covered by free trade agreements, representing preferential access to 3.35 billion customers, up from 26 per cent when we came to office,” Tehan said. 

For more information on free trade agreement tariff outcomes, see the FTA Portal. 

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