China issues guideline to help local govts, firms benefit from RCEP
Measures help local govts, firms explore opportunities
Published: Jan 26, 2022 12:14 PM



Six Chinese government departments, including the Ministry of Commerce, on Wednesday published a recent guideline that aims to help local governments, industries and companies to better seize opportunities stem from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The guideline contains 30 measures ranging from boosting commodity trade to strengthening intellectual property rights protection. It offers directions for companies on how to align themselves with the RCEP's regulations. 

For example, the guideline noted that China encourages companies to use the opportunities available through the RCEP's tariff cuts to promote the exports of clothing, shoes, suitcases and other goods.

It also listed various supporting measures China will take to improve efficiency. For example, ports are encouraged to adopt expedited measures for RCEP products and complete clearance procedures within six hours.

Weeks after the mega trade pact went into force, many businesses in China are already feeling positive changes brought by the world's largest trading bloc, including surging orders from certain RCEP members and reduced costs.

As they rejoice over these changes, domestic businesses are also taking spontaneous actions to grasp business opportunities under the agreement, such as learning relevant regulations and expanding their business plans, to maximize the benefits of doing business with companies in the RCEP region. 

As of Tuesday, China's export-focused companies had been granted 24,695 certificates of origin and declarations of origin under the RCEP framework, Di Jie, an official at the General Administration of Customs, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The certificates and declarations are for 9.25 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) worth of products including chemicals, footwear and metals, according to Di. To date, 460 million yuan worth of goods traded under the RCEP had passed customs clearance, the official said.

As cross-border trade in the Asia-Pacific region gradually falls under the scope of new regulations and rules related to the RCEP, trading companies feel encouraged and even a little surprised at the benefits.

"The RCEP pact has largely broadened business opportunities for us... we will try our best to get familiar with the rules and grasp the opportunities," Wang Zhengbo, chairman of TWT, a Guangxi-based cross-border trade and supply chain operator, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

According to Wang, his company used to export fruit only to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets, but because of the RCEP, which has reduced fruit tariffs in many members to zero or near-zero levels, many other countries also started to think of importing Chinese fruits.

"There are many businesspeople from the RCEP region, especially Japan, that come to us to inquire about fruit products," he said. "We are now taking action to expand our business scope to Japan, New Zealand and Australia." 

Vehicle exporters will also benefit, as every tractor worth 300,000 yuan could face about 20,000 yuan less in tariffs under the RCEP, he said. 

"We've seen that Chinese ports, whether on land or sea, have become much busier in recent days… For our company, transport volume increased by about 30 percent year-on-year in January" because of the RCEP, Wang said. 

Li Xiaotao, head of Hainan Yanghang Industrial Co in South China's Hainan Province, said earlier that due to the RCEP, a shipment of aluminum sulfate worth 46,301 yuan to Japan now enjoys zero tariff treatment, with a tax reduction of more than 20,000 yuan. 

"Whether for imports or exports, the RCEP rules increased the price advantages for our products," he told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that his company was the first in Hainan to get an RCEP certificate of origin.

Kicking in on January 1, the RCEP agreement covers about 30 percent of global GDP and 30 percent of the world's population.

Experts expressed high hopes for the RCEP to play a critical role in supporting China's trade, at a time when exports are under downward pressure arising from pandemic uncertainties.

"China-ASEAN trade will particularly benefit from the RCEP agreement as the two sides' trade ties are already close, and it's possible ASEAN will turn to Chinese suppliers more with the RCEP implementation and the coronavirus situation in Western countries," Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times.