CHINA OKAYS LARGEST FREE TRADE DEAL, INCLUDING JAPAN, ASEAN
The Chinese government said Monday that it has formally ratified the world's largest free trade deal signed last year by 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, South Korea, and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Kyodo News reported.
China hopes other countries will speed up their processes to put into force the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Commerce Minister Wang Wentao told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress, the nation's parliament.
In an attempt to boost its economic influence in the region, China has also recently expressed its eagerness to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact, from which the United States withdrew in January 2017.
If the free trade area is put into practice, trade and investment activities among RCEP nations would intensify on the back of measures such as eliminating and reducing tariffs.
The RCEP, covering a third of global trade and population, involves ASEAN, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The deal will take effect after ratification by six ASEAN members and three of the other countries. Last month, Thailand ratified the pact, while the Japanese Cabinet approved a bill to follow suit. If the free trade area were put into practice, trade and investment activities among RCEP nations would intensify on the back of measures such as eliminating and reducing tariffs.