On New Year's Day, an enterprise from China's Hainan Free Trade Port started processing goods under the massive free-trade deal – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Haikou customs issued the first RCEP Certificate of origin on January 1, the day when the RCEP officially came into force. Hainan Yanghang Industrial Company said it will export a batch of aluminum sulfate worth over 46 thousand yuan (about $7.26 thousand) to Japan with zero tariffs and tax reductions of about 2,315 yuan.
"As the RCEP takes effect, it adds price advantages to our product, and it also enhances the close partnership between export enterprises and foreign customers," said Li Xiaotao, the general manager of Hainan Yanghang Industrial.
Fifteen Asia-Pacific countries signed the RCEP agreement in November 2020, comprising 10 ASEAN members and five of their largest trading partners: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
"Within the 15 countries, China accounts for 58 percent of the economy and other countries will have easier access to the Chinese market through RCEP, allowing them to share the benefits of China's growth," said Cui Fan, a professor of School of International Trade and Economics at University of International Business and Economics.
"To some extent, it can also improve the level of the economic integration of the whole region."
Bounleuth Luangpaseuth, the Vice President of Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "RCEP would open a new chapter for regional economic and trade ties. It will also put Laos in the global spotlight."
According to China's Ministry of Commerce, over 90 percent of the goods traded between the RCEP signatories will eventually achieve zero tariffs.
"The implementation of the RCEP, together with the China-Cambodia Free Trade Agreement that also came into effect on Saturday, brings the number of free trade agreements and preferential trade arrangements in China to 19," said Peng Weiyan, an official at Haikou Port Customs.
"In the next step, customs will take the initiative to provide services and guidance for enterprises in conjunction with the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port, and to promote the high-quality development of Hainan's foreign trade," said Peng.