Singapore has become the first country to complete the official ratification process for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

Singapore deposited its instrument of ratification with the secretary-general of Asean on 9 April making it the first RCEP participating country (RPC) to complete the process.

After eight years of negotiations, the RCEP was signed on 15 November on the fringes of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting.

Signatories include ten Southeast Asian countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – along with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The 15 countries account for about 29% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said: “Singapore’s expeditious ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement signals Singapore’s strong commitment to strengthening our trade and economic linkages with our partners, for the benefit of our businesses and people. We look forward to our fellow RCEP Participating Countries doing likewise, to expedite the entry into force of the agreement.”

The RCEP builds on existing ASEAN agreements and is the world’s largest FTA to date.

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

Businesses can expect to benefit from tariff elimination of about 92% on average, as well as streamlined rules of origin for greater flexibility to tap on preferential market access benefits.

To support the local business community in understanding the agreement and how they may benefit from it when it enters into force, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been working actively with various business associations and chambers to organise outreach sessions and webinars.

The RCEP Agreement will enter into force 60 days after six ASEAN member states and three ASEAN FTA partners have deposited their instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval with the secretary-general of ASEAN, who has been designated as the depositary for the RCEP Agreement.

Participating countries are targeting entry into force on 1 January 2022.

Click here to read more about why the new RCEP trade deal matters to apparel.