PHNOM PENH, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said here on Monday that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been contributing to a sustainable and inclusive post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must "take full advantage of free trade agreements, especially the RCEP agreement, which is the largest free trade agreement in global history," he said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the 2022 ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum.
Hun Sen, the chair of ASEAN for 2022, said ASEAN must continue to promote economic integration and turn the bloc into an attractive and dynamic trade and investment hub by reducing tax and non-tax barriers.
He also officially announced the opening of the ASEAN Economic Club.
"The club will play a key role in promoting a more cohesive ASEAN economic integration through contribution in monitoring, evaluating and advising ... on the implementation of agreements reached by ASEAN leaders, particularly on free trade agreements, the RCEP agreement and other agreements related to the economic pillar," he said.
Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's undersecretary of state and spokesman Penn Sovicheat said the RCEP has further facilitated cross-border trade and investment flows, and created a huge market.
"RCEP is comprehensive, covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, dispute settlement, e-commerce, competition, and intellectual property, among others," he told Xinhua. "This trade pact has promoted multilateralism and free trade and all participating countries will benefit from it in the long term."
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the RCEP is multilateral trade cooperation and its structure is truly meant to benefit all participating countries.
Phea said the RCEP "is instrumental in subverting creeping unilateralism because it pulls all bilateral free trade agreements into one economic sphere, under one blanket trade ruling."
Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said RCEP has been giving a big boost to regional and global economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
"This mega-trade deal holds huge potential for all participating countries to boost their trade and investment ties and to quicken their economic recovery from the pandemic," he told Xinhua.
"Under the RCEP, all member countries will reap long-term benefits by integrating further into regional and global supply chains and creating new jobs for their respective peoples," Matthews said.
Entered into force in January 2022, the mega-regional trade pact comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 ASEAN member states, 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. ■