AUSTRALIA has welcomed agreement to finalise a regional trade deal tipped to boost export opportunities for businesses.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, agreed during meetings of the East Asia Summit in Bangkok, would 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,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These countries account for nine of Australia’s top 15 trading partners, 58% of our trade and 66% of our exports.

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“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.”

When finalised, Australian businesses and investors are set to benefit from opportunities under RCEP that are expected to include:

  • New scope for trade in services throughout the region including across telecommunications, professional and financial services.
  • Improved mechanisms for tackling non-tariff barriers
  • Greater investment certainty for businesses
  • Rules on e-commerce to make it easier for businesses to trade online.
  • A common set of rules on intellectual property
  • Agreed rules of origin that will increase the competitiveness of Australian inputs into regional production chains
  • Access deals with all RCEP parties which build on our existing free trade agreements, as well as the prospect of an agreement on market access with India.

India has to date opted not to join the RCEP.Further analysis of the RCEP is to be provided later this week by trade lawyer Andrew Hudson of Rigby Cooke

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