RCEP set to spur opening-up

China recently unveiled new guidelines for enterprises to promote high-quality implementation of the trade pact.



January 27, 2022

BEIJING – New guidelines promote optimized implementation of latest trade pact

High-quality implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement in China will provide more impetus for Chinese enterprises to expand international trade and economic cooperation, thus making more contributions to regional and global economic recovery, according to officials and experts on Wednesday.

With the free trade agreement’s high-level liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, China is expected to push for deeper reforms through high-level opening-up, which will in turn facilitate high-quality development, they said.

China unveiled new guidelines on Wednesday to promote high-quality implementation of the trade pact, which was signed in 2020 by 15 Asia-Pacific economies, and took effect on Jan 1.

The guidelines ask for full delivery on market opening-up commitments and implementation of the agreement rules. They aim to guide local governments, industries and enterprises to adapt to a more open regional market with fiercer competition in order to realize high-quality economic development, according to an online Ministry of Commerce statement.

The MOC and five other government departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, jointly issued the guidelines.

“Already the world’s second-largest economy, China needs to pay more attention to development quality, and pursue innovation-driven, high-tech based economic growth,” said Zhou Xuezhi, a researcher with the Institute of World Economics and Politics, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“It must proactively align domestic regulations with high-level international trade and economic rules to push forward reforms and changes of mindset,” Zhou said.

Luo Junjie, head of the Bureau of Operation Monitoring and Coordination at the MIIT, said the implementation of the RCEP agreement will offer major opportunities for China’s manufacturing sector to move up the value chain.

Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the guidelines will help create a more supportive policy environment for Chinese enterprises to make full use of RCEP rules to expand their presence in regional trade and investment.

“The guidelines will help enterprises, especially those in central and western regions, to better allocate resources and increase the resilience of industrial and supply chains,” Zhou said.

“High-end demand from overseas markets will also motivate Chinese enterprises to optimize products and services to eventually propel overall industrial upgrades in China.”

According to the guidelines, China will adopt a series of measures to fulfill 30 key tasks to give full play to the pact’s rules.

The measures include encouraging enterprises to make use of tariff cuts to expand exports in which China has comparative advantages, and increasing imports of key technologies, components and raw materials.

They also include enhancing legislation and law enforcement for intellectual property rights protections, strengthening research and development of key products and core technologies, and encouraging central, western and northeastern regions to ramp up efforts in undertaking industrial transfers.

Yu Benlin, director-general of the MOC’s Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs, encouraged Chinese enterprises to make good use of the cumulative rules of origin for goods trade, and proactively tap into market opportunities unleashed from liberalization of services and investment in the region.

DHgate, a leading Chinese B2B cross-border e-commerce market platform, applauded the guidelines’ decision to expand training for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to facilitate their understanding of RCEP rules. Most suppliers on the platform are MSMEs in need of such assistance, the company said.

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