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28 April 2021

On 9 April 2021, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) announced that Singapore has ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (“RCEP”) agreement and deposited the instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (“ASEAN”). Singapore is the first RCEP participating country to complete the official ratification process. The other participating countries are the ASEAN Member States (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) and the group’s five free trade agreement (“FTA”) partners, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and Republic of Korea.

The RCEP was signed on 15 November 2020 and establishes a partnership that builds on existing ASEAN agreements with its five FTA partners. It is the world’s largest FTA to date as it comprises about 30% of global gross domestic product and close to a third of the world’s population. The RCEP will broaden and deepen individual participating countries’ economic links and connectivity, present new opportunities and provide preferential access into growing markets in the region.

The RCEP is comprehensive both in coverage and in depth of commitments. It comprises 20 chapters, spanning traditional areas such as Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, as well as Trade in Services and Investment and Temporary Movement of Natural Persons. It also enhances emerging areas such as Competition Policy, Intellectual Property Rights and Electronic Commerce covered by existing ASEAN Plus One FTAs (that is, FTAs concluded between ASEAN and one of the five partners) and includes newer areas such as Government Procurement.

Businesses can expect to benefit from tariff elimination of about 92% on average, as well as streamlined rules of origin for greater flexibility to tap on preferential market access benefits.

The RCEP agreement will enter into force 60 days after six ASEAN Member States and three ASEAN FTA partners have deposited their instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval with the Secretary-General of ASEAN. Participating countries are targeting for the RCEP to enter into force on 1 January 2022.

Reference materials

The press release is available on the MTI website www.mti.gov.sg.

The RCEP agreement is available on the RCEP