China to accelerate domestic steps for RCEP implementation

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Aerial photo taken on July 30, 2020 shows a view of the Qinzhou terminal of the Beibu Gulf Port in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. [Photo/Xinhua]

China will intensify domestic efforts for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to take effect and get implemented, so as to uphold free trade and expand win-win cooperation, the State Council executive meeting decided Tuesday.

The RCEP, recently inked at the leaders' meetings on East Asian cooperation, is of great significance for participating countries to jointly tackle the uncertainties in the international landscape, increase intra-regional trade, stabilize industrial and supply chains, enhance people's well-being and facilitate China's high-level opening-up, according to the meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

"The RCEP, as the world's largest free trade agreement, brings benefits to all participating countries and serves as the most effective way to guard against uncertainties," Li said.

The Tuesday meeting required competent departments to fulfill due responsibilities in specifying task division and time frames in accordance with the agreement, and accelerating domestic ratification procedures.

Openness will be stepped up in areas including trade in goods, trade in services, investment and flow of natural persons, and higher standards will be applied in terms of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, intellectual property rights protection, trade remedy, e-commerce, government procurement, small and medium-sized enterprises, and economic and technical cooperation.

As much as 90 percent of intra-regional trade in goods will be made tariff free when the agreement get implemented. Policy measures will be swiftly formulated in terms of tariff concessions, simplified custom clearance procedures, technical preparations for rules of origin and harmonization and mutual recognition of product standards. Custom clearance within six hours will be made possible for express delivery and perishable goods.

The overall openness of trade in services pledged in the agreement is significantly higher than that in any other existing free trade agreements among the participating countries.

Opening-up measures in various service sectors will be drafted and implemented step by step in line with the new commitments, including research and development, management and consulting, manufacturing-related services, elderly care service, specialized design and construction.

A negative list on foreign investment will be delivered as pledged, and no additional restrictions outside the list shall be imposed.

Comprehensive protection of intellectual property rights, the first such commitment in a free trade agreement, will be fulfilled with copyrights, trademarks, geographical indications, patents, genetic resources fully incorporated in the scope of protection.

Provisions involving electronic authentication and signature, online personal information protection, cybersecurity and cross-border electronic information transmission will be executed.

"As a participating country, China must make active efforts for the agreement to come into effect. This will demonstrate China's support for openness, multilateralism and free trade," Li said.

Rules and regulations related to RCEP implementation will be sorted out expeditiously.

The meeting also decided on steps to strengthen publicity and training for localities, business associations and enterprises to familiarize them with the rules of the agreement, and shape deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges brought by opening-up and competition at a larger scale and with higher standards.

"China takes the signing of the RCEP as a major step to further expand opening-up. We will make all preparations and take concrete actions to deliver on our commitments," Li said.

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