Australian businesses to accede to world’s largest free trade agreement in 2022


Foreign Minister Marise Payne. Source: AP / Leah Millis.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), billed as the world’s largest free trade agreement, has been ratified by Australia.

In a joint statement Wednesday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan said Australian businesses will have access to RCEP from January 1 next year .

Other signatories to the free trade agreement include the 10 ASEAN states – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

“RCEP will enter into force 60 days after ratification by at least six Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states and at least three non-ASEAN states,” the ministers said. .

“This milestone was taken on November 2, 2021 with the ratification of Australia and New Zealand, which will pave the way for the entry into force of RCEP on January 1, 2022.”

Payne said the deal marks Australia’s commitment to an ASEAN-led regional economic architecture and that once ratified it would bring together nine of the country’s 15 major trading partners into a single economic architecture. .

Last week Mandarin reported that Australia had agreed to pledge $ 154 million to strengthen a comprehensive strategic partnership with the ASEAN bloc. The bulk of the money will support the 10 nations – which together represent Australia’s second largest trading partner – to tackle health security, terrorism and transnational crime, as well as energy security and economic initiatives and health. oceans.

The Foreign Secretary added that, from the point of view of the Australian government, the RECP did not reflect a change in his “serious concerns” about the civil unrest and clashes with government forces in Myanmar now controlled by the military.

“We call on Myanmar’s security forces to end violence against civilians, engage in dialogue and release all those arbitrarily detained, including Australian professor Sean Turnell,” Payne said.

“The government strongly supports the leadership of ASEAN in charting a way out of the crisis in Myanmar. We will continue to work with our ASEAN and other partners to support regional efforts towards a resolution, ”she said.

The foreign minister also announced on Wednesday that she would visit Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam as part of a campaign to reassure diplomatic partners about Australia’s nuclear submarine program.

This article was first published by Mandarin.

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