Prime Minister Julia Gillard, accompanied by Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson, today joined leaders from 15 countries of the Asian region to launch negotiations for a new trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
RCEP will bring together the ten ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand. The 16 countries account for almost half the world’s population and 30 per cent of global GDP.
The Prime Minister and Minister Emerson congratulated ASEAN on initiating RCEP.
Australia’s participation in RCEP delivers on the vision for Australia’s engagement with Asia set out in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
RCEP will support the goal of a more open Australian economy, integrated with Asia, and help improve the flow of goods, services, capital and ideas.
The countries involved include nine of Australia’s top 12 trading partners and account for almost 60 per cent of our two-way trade and 70 per cent of our exports.
RCEP will form part of the Government’s strategy for lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for Australian exporters of goods and services and Australian investors.
The agreement will provide Australian businesses with a genuinely regional platform for trade and investment decisions, enabling them to compete and succeed in regional value chains.
RCEP will build on the high-quality free trade agreement that Australia already has with ASEAN and New Zealand. It will complement Australia’s participation in bilateral trade negotiations and in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
Australia’s participation in each of these negotiations will add momentum to the process of competitive trade liberalisation.
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