China finishes ratifying RCEP free trade agreement: Commerce Ministry
Published: Mar 22, 2021 04:47 PM


China said on Monday that it is one of the leading countries to have completed the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade zone planned by 15 countries in Asia-Pacific.

China's Ministry of Commerce said that the country has already completed the ratification of the RCEP agreement. Earlier on March 8, Wang Wentao, Minister of Commerce, announced that the process had already been completed.

The declaration is possibly aimed to show China's resolve in progressing the deal, despite recent political uncertainties, including the turbulent US-China strategic talk in Alaska and a joint security statement released by the US and Japan that accuses China of being "inconsistent", said Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association.

"RCEP is at a critical phase," Tian said, "according to the agreement, the implementation of the deal requires the ratification by at least 9 countries in the pact. Japan's RCEP ratification will be considered significant."

The joint statement by Japan and the US, released last Wednesday, was "downgrading" Japan as the US' "strategic appendage," and stands as evidence of the two countries' "despicable collusion to interfere in China's internal affairs and try to throw mud at China," said China's Foreign Ministry.

However, Japan's ratification will mark an important step for RCEP, especially with the political turmoil in Myanmar adding uncertainties to some ASEAN countries.

"China is setting itself as an example to encourage other countries to follow suit, and to ensure them that the political uncertainties will not be an impediment to the deal," Tian said.

Thailand finished the ratification process in February, and all member countries have agreed to finish ratification by the end of this year. The deal is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2022.

China's ratification process of the RCEP agreement started in December 2020, and in mid-January this year, Gao Feng, a spokesperson for MOFCOM, said that the process has been smooth and the government is aiming to finish the deal ratification and plan preparatory work for the implementation of the agreement within six months.

The ratification of the RCEP means the economies of the 15 members, which accounts for one third of the global economic output, will form a unified, giant market with high potential and vitality among its fifteen member countries with a total population of 2.27 billion.