RCEP "steps on the accelerator" for the promotion strategy of the free trade zone

  Our reporter Feng Qiyu

  At the end of 2020, the world's largest free trade agreement "Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement" (RCEP) was signed.

The approval of RCEP in various countries is advancing steadily: In early April this year, China submitted the approval letter to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, becoming one of the first countries to complete the agreement. The ASEAN Secretariat has notified Singapore and Japan to complete the approval, and Thailand and other countries have also completed the approval. Domestic approval process.

  “Signing more free trade agreements and upgrading the current free trade agreements is an important part of opening up.” At the press conference of the State Council Information Office held a few days ago, Wang Shouwen, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Deputy Representative of International Trade Negotiations, pointed out RCEP as an example. , The free trade agreement has played a very good role in my country's opening up.

He said that my country will step up the formation of a high-standard free trade zone network based on the periphery, radiating the "Belt and Road", and facing the world, and implement the strategy of upgrading the free trade zone.

  Under the epidemic situation, how is the progress of my country's free trade zone construction?

What are the effects of RCEP on the value chain of the global industrial chain?

What does RCEP mean to the promotion strategy of my country's free trade zone?

Our reporter interviewed relevant experts on these issues a few days ago.

  The important role of the free trade agreement is highlighted

  In 2002, China's first free trade agreement was reached, starting a new journey in the construction of my country's free trade zone.

In the past 20 years, my country’s free trade "circle of friends" has continued to expand, and 19 free trade agreements have been signed with 26 countries and regions, especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, my country has signed 9 free trade agreements including RCEP. .

  Since the outbreak of the new crown pneumonia, global trade has continued to be sluggish.

In this case, the important role of free trade agreements is highlighted.

Wang Shouwen said that the free trade agreement has played an important role in strengthening the relationship between my country and its trading partners and promoting opening up.

  First of all, it plays a very significant role in expanding our trade and investment relations with our free trade partners and in stabilizing my country's basic foreign trade and foreign investment.

Statistics show that last year, my country's trade with non-free trade agreement partners increased by 0.8%, while trade with free trade partners increased by 3.2%.

At the same time, free trade agreements have also played an important role in trade and investment relations.

Last year, nearly 70% of my country's foreign investment was to partner countries of free trade agreements, and 84% of foreign investment attracted came from partner countries of free trade agreements.

  Secondly, the free trade agreement has also tightened the economic and trade relations between my country and its free trade partners.

The bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN in 2003 was only over 78 billion U.S. dollars. Last year, the bilateral trade volume reached 685.1 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 8.7 times. ASEAN became China's largest trading partner.

  In addition, the free trade agreement has played a very good role in my country's opening to the outside world.

In terms of trade in goods, my country’s most-favoured-nation average tariff is 7.5%, and the free trade agreement enables more than 90% of trade between my country and its free trade partners to achieve zero tariffs.

In terms of service trade, joining the free trade agreement has greatly improved my country's opening up in the service trade field.

Taking RCEP as an example, China has opened 100 departments when it joined the World Trade Organization, and RCEP has added 22 open departments.

  RCEP is good for the construction of industrial chain value chain

  As a free trade agreement with 15 members and 30% of the world’s total GDP and total trade, RCEP is modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and reciprocal. It is in terms of rules of origin, e-commerce, and trade facilitation. All have made great breakthroughs.

  "The signing of RCEP has accelerated the degree of regional economic integration, is conducive to stabilizing the East Asian production network with China, Japan and South Korea as the core, making the flow of factors and industrial transfer in the region more convenient, and promoting the diversification and regionalization of the industrial chain. It is conducive to building closer and complementary industrial relations." Liu Xiangdong, deputy director of the Economic Research Department of the China Center for International Economic Exchange, said in an interview with a reporter from the Economic Daily that RCEP has shortened the trade and investment distance of the member states, relying on the advantages of geographical proximity to further It improves the stability and security of the industrial chain supply chain, and also ensures that member states have a better coordination and division of labor in the industrial chain supply chain, thereby forming a stable and resilient trade and investment network.

  Shen Minghui, Director of the Research Office of Emerging Economies at the Institute of Asia-Pacific and Global Strategies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that from the point of view of the rules of accumulation of origin, the RCEP agreement further strengthens the dominant position of intermediate product producers from within the region, and the other is from the perspective of external regions. It has further improved the attractiveness of countries in the region to attract foreign investment from outside the region. The third is to greatly expand the scope of actual benefits of preferential trade, strengthen the optimization and integration of the supply chain and value chain within the region, and promote the development of regional economic integration .

From an investment perspective, the pre-access national treatment, negative list, mutual investment protection, investment promotion, and investment facilitation rules of the RCEP agreement play an important role in promoting the stability of cross-border investment between regions.

  "RCEP will strengthen the deep integration of the electronic information industry chain in the region." Liang Yixin, an associate researcher of CCID Research Institute believes that RCEP will deepen the regional cooperation of the electronic information industry chain in the Asia-Pacific region through the accumulated rules of origin in the region.

  According to reports, in recent years, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries have continued to attract investment, especially in the electronics manufacturing industry. Samsung, LG, Intel, and Panasonic have successively set up factories in Vietnam. ASEAN countries such as Vietnam are gradually participating in the global electronics manufacturing industry chain. .

However, my country still has comprehensive advantages in terms of market, policies, talents, industrial chain support, and business environment. In the short term, it is not realistic for countries such as Vietnam to undertake a large number of my country's electronic information manufacturing industries.

  Liang Yixin said that for my country, it should take the initiative to take advantage of the regional integration of RCEP in the electronic information industry in the Asia-Pacific region, focus on the big and let go of the small, accelerate the development of core products with high technology content and wide application areas and the core links at both ends of the "smile curve". Actively participate in the reshaping of the global industrial chain.

On the one hand, use RCEP to strengthen cooperation with low-end industrial chains and supply chains in Southeast Asia and other countries, encourage domestic industries to upgrade to high value-added links such as R&D and design, system integration, brand channels, and enhance industrial added value and industrial chain control capabilities.

On the other hand, RCEP is used to implement the inter-embedding of the industrial chain of China, Japan and South Korea, and deepen the cooperation in the supply chain of the high-end electronic information industry chain of China, Japan and South Korea.

  Further implementation of the free trade zone promotion strategy

  With the signing of the RCEP agreement, the implementation of my country's free trade zone promotion strategy has accelerated.

  First, further expand the scope.

my country will promote the early implementation of RCEP, accelerate the negotiation process of China-Japan-Korea, China and the GCC free trade agreement, and actively consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

  Secondly, further improve the level.

my country will strengthen exchanges and mutual learning with the world's high-standard free trade zones, and actively explore free trade rules that conform to the direction of its own reform and opening up and are in line with internationally prevailing rules.

It is necessary to further increase the zero-tariff ratio of trade in goods, relax market access for service trade and investment, and actively participate in negotiations on new rules and new topics such as digital economy and environmental protection.

"The intellectual property rights in RCEP accounted for a quarter of the entire text, and the e-commerce related clauses have also taken a big step. In addition, some clauses, such as government procurement, have already involved procedural rules, etc., which all send a strong signal to the outside world." Shen Minghui said .

  In addition, it is necessary to further enhance the effectiveness. Shen Minghui said that it is necessary to make good use of the results of the free trade agreement. In the past, the feasibility study and negotiation of free trade agreements were emphasized, and now it is more prominent to make good use of the results of free trade agreements, especially to make good use of relevant policies to release free trade dividends. In the questionnaire survey organized by the Department of International Studies of the Academy of Social Sciences on the use of free trade zones by enterprises, there are still companies that do not understand what a free trade zone is and how to make better use of the preferential tariffs in the free trade zone. Help enterprises understand the free trade zone on a larger scale and at a deeper level, so that more enterprises can make good use of the free trade zone and increase their "sense of gain."