Singapore — The republic signed the world’s largest free trade agreement in the form of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on Sunday (Nov 15).

The agreement was completed after eight years, since RCEP negotiations were formally launched in 2012 at the Asean Summit in Cambodia.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing signed the RCEP on the sidelines of the 37th Asean Summit and related meetings with his counterparts from the Asean member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) and Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the leaders of RCEP participating countries.

The RCEP establishes a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership that builds on existing bilateral Asean agreements with its five free trade agreement (FTA) partners.

As a key regional agreement, the RCEP will complement Singapore’s existing network of FTAs, expand its economic space, and boost trade and investment flows. It will further broaden and deepen the country’s economic linkages and connectivity with the region, open up opportunities and provide businesses with preferential access into growing markets.

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Mr Chan said: “The RCEP is a demonstration of partner countries’ commitment to greater economic integration for the benefit of our people and businesses. Beyond its economic value, it is also a statement of our strategic intent to have a shared interest in each other’s prosperity and success.

“This bodes well for the security of the region. We look forward to the swift implementation of the agreement and we are committed to keeping this agreement up to date to meet the evolving realities and demands.”

The nations that signed the agreement are set to work on their respective ratification processes towards the entry into force of the agreement. /TISG