PHNOM PENH, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian officials and experts discussed the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during an online meeting, local media reported on Friday.
Signed on Nov. 15, 2020 and entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, RCEP is a mega trade agreement between 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and its five major trade partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Sim Sokheng, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, on Thursday opened the online event "Unpacking the RCEP Agreement" to discuss the Rules of Origin (ROO) that determines which goods that originate from RCEP member countries can benefit from preferential tariff treatment.
During the discussion the focus was on how the benefits from RCEP and the removal of certain tariffs between member countries could be enjoyed by as many Cambodian businesses as possible.
"The private sector is the backbone of the economy's growth," The Khmer Times quoted Sokheng as saying.
Jeremy Gross, director of capacity building at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), which organized the event, said that "sustained outreach to the private sector is essential," and referred to the 100,000 views within the first few hours after the ministry posted information about RCEP on a trade board.
"There's a real thirst for information about RCEP so ERIA is very much looking forward to continuing our cooperation with the ministry," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Center in Singapore, who works with governments and companies to help decide trade policy for the region, said, "One of the most impressive things about Cambodia is the ability of the Cambodian government to be forward-looking."
"I'm pleased to say that Cambodia so far has been in front of many governments in the region in trying to get this information into the hands of businesses and making it accessible," she said.
She encouraged businesses interested in benefiting from RCEP to contact the Ministry of Commerce in learning about what tariffs are being removed and what rules need to be followed, in order to get this prized Proof of Origin Certificate (POC).
Un Chantha, director of Export-Import Department of the Ministry of Commerce, assured that the ministry is conducting "various in-house training among its officers who are in charge of the issue of origin."
RCEP covers approximately 30 percent of the world's population, accounts for about 30 percent of global gross domestic product, and represents some 28 percent of global trade.
After it took effect, more than 90 percent of merchandise trade among members that have approved the accord will eventually be subject to zero tariffs. ■