Bangkok Post - 08 February 2021
RCEP going to parliament, instant enforcement likely
By Phusadee Arunmas
The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to propose to parliament on Tuesday the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact, the world’s biggest free trade deal, signed by 15 nations in Asia-Pacific including Thailand last November.
Sansern Samalapa, commerce vice-minister, said the ministry expects the pact to sail through parliamentary ratification.
Under the parliamentary ratification process, if half the RCEP member states (at least six Asean countries and four non-Asean countries) ratify the pact, it will be enforced instantly.
According to Mr Sansern, after the parliamentary ratification, Thailand will move to improving domestic laws to be in compliance with the agreement.
"The RCEP agreement is expected to come into force this year and will support open, comprehensive and regulatory trade and investment," he said.
"It will strengthen and maintain connectivity to regional production and the supply chain."
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said Thailand needs to amend various domestic laws and regulations to comply with the pact, particularly those regarding copyright, customs and regulations related to the rule of origin.
She said the pact would help Thailand upgrade the domestic industrial sector, including food and agriculture, electrical equipment, plastics, auto parts, garments and motorcycles.
The expansion of trade in services is highly anticipated, especially for construction, health businesses, animation, film and entertainment, and retail, said Ms Auramon.
She warned the Thai private sector it needs to prepare for the new pact, particularly on three important issues: trade promotions, investment protection, and new issues related to intellectual property, e-commerce and trade competition for small and medium enterprises, as well as government procurement.
The pact comprises 20 chapters, which include provisions for trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures, sanitary measures, e-commerce, small business, government procurement and dispute settlement.
In 2019, the population of RCEP signatories was almost 3.6 billion or 48.1% of the total world population.
The combined GDP of RCEP members was worth more than US$28.5 trillion, making up 32.7% of the world’s GDP.
Trade between members was valued at $11.2 trillion over the same period, 29.5% of world trade.