RCEP catalyst for regional trade, greater economic integration: Cambodian PM

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said here on Thursday that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact will be a booster for regional trade and greater economic integration in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.

Entering into force early this year, the RCEP comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2022, Hun Sen said the mega-regional trade deal marked an important achievement for ASEAN as the bloc has been keeping up with its efforts to open up the economy and diversify its regional markets.

“I firmly believe that this huge free trade agreement will boost trade activities both inside and outside of ASEAN, as well as promote broader regional economic integration,” he said.

“As a member of the RCEP, Cambodia reaffirms its commitment to the rule-based trading system and welcomes all businesses and investments from the ASEAN countries and other partners,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen said that the situation and outlook of the global economy was still fragile and prone to new crises, as the world continued facing new and increasingly complex challenges that were occurring one after another in economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical aspects.

“In this sense, ASEAN must continue adhering to the principle of multilateral trading system and enhancing trade liberalization to promote ASEAN as an open, transparent, and inclusive region,” he said.

He added that maintaining ASEAN centrality and unity is also crucial to building global and regional relations.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, said that the RCEP has provided tremendous benefits and opportunities for ASEAN members to diversify their markets and enhance the production capability.

“Moreover, the RCEP trade deal has enhanced the role of multilateralism based on a rule-based international order, promoting more cooperation and peaceful trade activities in the post-pandemic era,” he said. Xinhua