The government has said the domestic economy could be boosted by about 2.7% as a result of the world’s largest free trade deal signed by 15 Asia-Pacific nations last year.
Calculated in terms of the country’s real gross domestic product in fiscal 2019, the expected economic effect from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, involving Japan, China and South Korea, corresponds to a GDP increase of around ¥15 trillion ($140 billion), according to relevant Japanese ministries.
In its first published estimate of the impact of the multilateral trade pact covering about a third of global trade and population, the government on Friday predicted around 570,000 jobs would be created.
The projected boost is larger than the government’s previous estimates of a 1.5% increase from the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership and a 1.0% rise from the economic partnership agreement with the European Union. The estimates for the TPP and the pact with the European Union were released in December 2017.
Acknowledging that the RCEP “could affect the economy significantly,” a Foreign Ministry official told reporters it “will cover around 46% of Japan’s total trade, compared with about 15% in the case of the 11-member TPP and about 12% in the case of the Japan-EU EPA.”
But the official added it would take a “considerable” period of time for the impact to fully materialize.
Signed last November, the deal will eliminate tariffs on 91% of goods and set common rules on investment, intellectual property and e-commerce. It is expected to reinvigorate supply chains in the region and make them more effective for businesses.
It is Japan’s first trade deal involving both China and South Korea. China is Japan’s largest trading partner in terms of the total sum of imports and exports, and South Korea is its third biggest.
Besides the three East Asian countries, the RCEP consists of Australia, New Zealand and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The pact will come into effect once it is ratified by any six of the ASEAN members and three of the other countries.
A special arrangement was made to facilitate the return of India, one of the founding members, exempting it from a rule barring new entrants to the framework for 18 months following the pact’s entry into force.
India skipped all negotiations from November 2019 due to concern that its trade deficit with China would grow.
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