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Moves adopted to implement RCEP

By XU WEI (China Daily )

Updated: 2020-12-24

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By rolling out a range of measures to allow greater access to the goods, services and investment sectors, the State Council has accelerated implementation of measures to facilitate trade and investment within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

At a Dec 1 executive meeting, the State Council, China's Cabinet, stressed the importance of concluding the urgent tasks required to enable implementation of the RCEP.

It urged improved coordination between government departments and quicker domestic approval procedures to promote wider, easier access to trade in goods, services and investment, and facilitate the cross-border flow of people.

China will apply higher standards in intellectual property protection, trade remedies, e-commerce, government procurement and economic and technological cooperation, as part of arrangements outlined in the trade deal, along with the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The RCEP, signed by 15 countries last month, is the world's largest trade deal. It covers a market of 2.2 billion people, with participating countries accounting for about 30 percent of global GDP.

It was the second time the State Council had convened an executive meeting to outline steps to implement the RCEP, which was signed after eight years of negotiations.

"The Chinese people honor their word. We will see our promises through and the relevant government departments must accelerate work in this regard and showcase our determination to expand opening-up with concrete actions," Premier Li Keqiang told the meeting.

Li urged relevant departments to clarify rules and regulations related to the deal's implementation to honor the obligations stipulated in the agreement and ensure compliance with domestic procedures.

The council called for the acceleration of measures related to tariff concessions, simplified customs clearance procedures and technical preparations for rules on the origin, harmonization and mutual recognition of product standards.

It added that customs clearance for express delivery and perishable goods must be given within six hours.

China will further open up services sectors in research and development, consulting and management, services related to the manufacturing sector, senior care, professional design and construction, as required by the deal, the State Council said.

The country will impose no additional restrictions on foreign investment outside its negative list of sectors that prohibits foreign investment. It will implement across-the-board protection of intellectual property rights, the country's first such commitment in an international trade agreement, and will provide stronger protection of copyrights, trademarks, geographical indications, patents and genetic resources.

Provisions will be made regarding electronic authentication and signatures, protection of online personal information, cybersecurity and the cross-border transmission of electronic information, the council said.

The government will scale up training, and promotional campaigns will target business associations and enterprises so they will better understand the new rules involved in the RCEP to help them seize opportunities and cope with the challenges brought by the higher levels of market access, it added.

Cui Fan, a professor of international trade and economics at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said the implementation of RCEP rules will expand opening-up and facilitate China's bid to foster a dual circulation development pattern in which domestic circulation will act as the mainstay while domestic and international circulation will reinforce each other.

"What is equally important is that the RCEP can stabilize and optimize value chains in the Asia-Pacific region and improve the power of discourse between participating countries, especially developing nations, in the formulation of international trading rules," he said.

Zhang Deyong, a researcher with the National Academy of Economic Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the implementation of RCEP arrangements will provide strong impetus for the improvement of China's business environment, eradicate institutional barriers and expand the scale of market access.

"China can use the RCEP as an opportunity to expand opening-up and continue to deepen reforms. Greater opening-up will provide inexhaustible impetus for the country's economic growth," he said.

Zhang added that in the future, China must place greater emphasis on access at the institutional level, including areas such as rules, management and standards, to unleash new bonuses for the nation's business community.