The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, inked at a time when the world is mired in headwinds of pandemic and anti-globalization sentiments, heralds new confidence in economic globalization, experts said at a sub-forum of the high-profile Boao Forum for Asia annual conference.
The signing of RCEP brought a message to Asia and the world, that is, globalization is still promising and the trend of economic globalization is unstoppable, said trade expert Long Yongtu.
Long said the signing of RCEP symbolizes in a sense that the global economic center of gravity is shifted to the Asia-Pacific region.
The RCEP is the world's largest free trade zone across a wide assortment of indicators, and its 15 member states are home to 2.27 billion people, with a total GDP of $26 trillion and total exports of $5.2 trillion.
China has taken the lead in ratifying the agreement. All members of the RCEP are planning to ratify the agreement before the end of this year and push for it to become effective on Jan 1, 2022.
"The Chinese government attaches great importance to RCEP and has already started to implement relevant preparatory work," said Cai Qiang, director of the Tariff Department of the Ministry of Finance.
Of the more than 700 other binding obligations involving China, 87 percent have already met the implementation conditions, and the remaining 13 percent can be implemented immediately after the agreement comes into effect.
"As far as China is concerned, it can be said that everything is ready. We are only waiting for the ratifications to make it effective," Cai said.
Cai said that RCEP has a distinct feature in the parallel of both development-oriented rules and standards-oriented rules, taking into consideration the differences in member countries.
Zheng Yongnian, a scholar with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), said that RCEP is the first step in the institutionalization of economic and trade in Asia and the natural result of the shift of the world economic center to the Asia-Pacific region.
RCEP is inclusive and reflects multilateralism, he said.
The eastern Asian economies have been very dynamic, and the RCEP will further improve their competitiveness and narrow the development gap between the different countries, said Isabelle Durant, acting secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The RCEP is an important bloc, the biggest in the world, and considering its diversity, which brings both strength and challenge, a lot of things has to be done in order for it to succeed, she said.