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Singapore ratifies RCEP trade deal

Out-Law News | 14 Apr 2021 | 2:32 am | 1 min. read

Singapore has ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, becoming the first country to do so.

Under the agreement, businesses will benefit from an average of around 92% tariffs removed on goods traded between countries that are parties to the agreement, simplified customs measures and streamlined rules of origin.

Singapore has deposited its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said a statement (3-page / 490 KB PDF) by Singapore’s ministry of trade and industry (MTI).

The RCEP deal establishes a mutually beneficial economic partnership that builds on existing ASEAN agreements between the bloc's five FTA partners, it said.

The agreement will be effective 60 days after it has been approved by at minimum six ASEAN member countries and three ASEAN FTA partners. The participating countries are targeting entry into force on 1 January 2022.

Nicholas Hanna of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “RCEP is a regional free trade agreement which has been in the making since 2012. While it’s taken a considerable amount of time to formulate, it has been described as a modern and comprehensive free trade agreement. The RCEP covers trade not only in goods, services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, but also pioneering rules in electronic commerce, IP, government tenders, competition, and small & medium sized enterprises. The benefits are there for the taking amongst the various signatories. Once implemented, the mechanics will need to be tested and hopefully incorporated in greater free trade among these countries.”

In November, 15 Asia Pacific countries signed the RCEP trade deal, which is world’s largest trade agreement, during the 37th ASEAN Summit that was held in Hanoi, Vietnam.