China said on Monday that it is one of the first countries to have completed ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade zone, planned by 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
China's Ministry of Commerce said that the country has completed the ratification of the RCEP agreement. On March 8, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao announced that the Chinese government has officially ratified the RCEP agreement.
The declaration is possibly intended to show China's resolve in pushing forward the iconic trade deal, despite recent political uncertainties, including US-China strategic talks in Alaska and a joint security statement released by the US and Japan that accused China of being "inconsistent", said Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association.
"The RCEP is at a critical phase," Tian said. "According to the agreement, the implementation of the deal requires the ratification by at least nine countries in the pact. Japan's RCEP ratification will be considered significant."
The joint statement by Japan and the US, released last Wednesday, "downgraded" Japan as the US' "strategic appendage," and stood as evidence of the two countries' "despicable collusion to interfere in China's internal affairs and try to throw mud at China," said China's Foreign Ministry.
However, Japan's ratification will mark an important step for the RCEP, especially with the political turmoil in Myanmar that is adding uncertainties to some ASEAN countries.
"China is setting itself as an example to inspire other countries to follow suit, and to assure them that the political uncertainties will not be an impediment to the deal," Tian said.
For Japan, the deal is an important economic opportunity it cannot miss, analysts say. According to a government report released on Friday, the trade deal, once coming into force, is estimated to boost Japan's annual economy by 2.7 percent, which would be worth around $137.82 billion.
By comparison, a free trade deal with the EU would lift Japan's GDP by around 1 percent and joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership would boost it by around 1.5 percent.
In November 2020, Japan and China agreed on a bilateral tariff reduction mechanism, a historic breakthrough between the countries under the RCEP.
According to Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute, the RCEP will promote high-level trade liberalization between the two countries and among all 15 members, and it will also inject new impetus into the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
Thailand finished the ratification process in February, and all member countries have agreed to finish ratification by the end of this year. The deal is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2022.
China's ratification process started in December 2020, and in mid-January this year, Gao Feng, a MOFCOM spokesperson, said that the process had been smooth and the government was aiming to finish the ratification and plan preparatory work for the implementation of the agreement within six months.
The ratification of the RCEP means the economies of the 15 members, which account for one-third of global economic output, will form a unified, giant market with high potential and vitality among its 15 members with a total population of 2.27 billion people.