Australia is 1 of 15 countries that have just signed up for the RCEP, which covers nearly 60% of Australia’s trade.
It has taken 8 years to get to this point.
Signatories include many major trading partner countries, such as Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and China.
It will be interesting to see how China/Australia trade relationships will develop as an outcome of being joint signatories.
While Australia has existing FTAs with many of the signatories, there are elements of the RCEP that may be of benefit:
- Greater scope & capacity to comply with rules of origin
- Less bureaucracy & fewer involved parties for evidence of origin (e.g. Manufacturer’s’ Decs of Origin instead of Cert of Origin via authorised bodies)
- Some goods not covered in bilateral FTAs may qualify for duty free status under the wider RCEP
With so many countries involved, it will still take some time for this Agreement to be ratified and become operative.
Realistically this is likely to be late 2021 at the earliest.