Industry leaders voice high hopes for trade pact

By PRIME SARMIENTO and YANG HAN in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-04-04 07:47
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Exploring opportunities

The trade pact should help ASEAN companies explore more opportunities in the region for market coverage and investment potential, she said.

Pavida said: "A more-integrated RCEP can foster the development of multilayered regional value chains that force member countries to think more about how they can position themselves in the value chain of different industries. For example, Vietnam is becoming a significant player in electronics thanks to its proximity to China. This makes it necessary for, say, Thailand to think how it can be part of this emerging regional value chain."

Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of The Federation of Thai Industries, or FTI, said Thailand has almost 40,000 items that would benefit from the RCEP tariff reductions, with nearly 30,000 to enjoy zero tariffs in the first phase. Besides opening up the regional market, the RCEP can help better harmonize regulations and customs procedures than existing free trade agreements.

"The RCEP created a lot of opportunities for many other trade and investment projects in Thailand because… a lot of countries also want to invest more in Thailand," Supant said, adding that also provides Thai entrepreneurs with a chance to invest more in RCEP members.

The FTI has established a Thailand-China Industrial Cooperation Institute as part of the free trade agreement to support Thai entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises, according to Supant, who hopes the institute can help promote business exchanges between the two countries.

E-commerce rise

For example, seeing the rise of e-commerce during the pandemic, Supant said China and Thailand can further develop cross-border e-commerce and use technologies to support trade while promoting the digital economy.

Supant said China and Thailand can deepen their industrial cooperation to strengthen the regional supply chain network and jointly develop industries with high potential, such as agricultural technology.

"China has a lot of high-end technology that can support Thailand," Supant said, noting that Thailand, as an agricultural country, needs more advanced technologies to realize its food security goals.

Ong Tze Guan, chairman of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, said Singapore was the first country to ratify the RCEP agreement. He said trade is a key component of the city state's economy and the partnership will serve as an important mechanism to boost trade between Singapore and other RCEP members. "The RCEP can only bring member economies closer together and make substantial industry and consumer markets for each other," he said.

In New Zealand, major dairy companies Yashili and Fonterra are keen on the RCEP, as it includes China, one of the world's biggest consumer markets.

Wei Song, CEO of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co, said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency that China is a "big consumer of dairy products and has strong market potential. New Zealand is recognized as a golden milk source and one of the largest dairy exporters in the world."

Song said that after the RCEP took effect, certification and customs procedures were simplified and more convenient. Shortened customs clearance times are more conducive to the circulation of goods between China and New Zealand, he added.

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