PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The resources sector has welcomed the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
The RCEP is the world’s largest trade agreement, covering 15 countries in the region, with a population of more than 2.25-billion, a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $25.8-trillion and nine of Australia’s top 15 trading partners.
Much of Australia’s A$273-billion resources export income and most of the 244 000 jobs in Australia’s world-leading resources sector benefit from and are supported by its exports to countries that have collectively worked towards this historic agreement.
Federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham said that the RCEP would further integrate Australian businesses into the world’s fastest growing region.
“Substantial progress has been made with 15 of the 16 RCEP countries committing to finalise minor outstanding matters within months and proceeding to signing this deal next year,” Birmingham said.
“These countries account for nine of Australia’s top 15 trading partners, 58% of our trade and 66% of our exports.
“Australia will also look to expand the value of RCEP by working with India on its outstanding issues, with a view to having it also sign the deal, while continuing to actively pursue implementation of our India Economic Strategy.”
“As RCEP economies develop and their middle classes grow, this deal will open up new doors for Australian businesses and investors across our region. With one in five Australian jobs trade-related, the more trade opportunities our businesses have, the more local jobs we can continue to create,” the Minister said.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) CEO Tania Constable on Tuesday said that the agreement would benefit all Australians by enabling even closer economic, social and cultural ties with people and nations in the region and will help reverse the damage of protectionism by lifting people out of poverty, boosting economic growth and strengthening regional cooperation.
“The MCA is encouraged by the commitment of current RCEP members and India to continue their work towards Indian participation. India – a strategic partner since 2009 – is Australia's fifth-largest export market and tenth largest trading partner overall. Its participation in the agreement would propel the agreement’s coverage to almost half of the world’s GDP,” Constable said.