The media will remain a vital source of “accurate and timely” news on developments concerning the world’s largest trade pact for policymakers, think-tanks, businesspeople, investors and the general public.
The Phnom Penh Post CEO and publisher Ly Tayseng made the comment on May 29 at the virtual RCEP Media & Think Tank Forum organised by the state-owned China Daily newspaper and other partners.
The implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which took effect on January 1 in 10 out of 15 signatory states, will be of “great significance” to the region and the world, and provide a “tremendous boost” to post-Covid-19 economic recovery efforts, Tayseng said.
“The RCEP has proven to be a strong boost for international trade and has made our region a leader in global economic recovery, and allowed us to continue being an attractive place for investment.
“At The Phnom Penh Post, we have been reporting extensively on the effects of the partnership. Since it was first mooted, we have promoted and highlighted, to businesses and consumers alike, how the RCEP has and will impact their lives and livelihoods.
“The Phnom Penh Post’s readership consists of businesspeople, NGO heads and investors, among many other high-level professionals, who all depend on the facts from a well-reported media to conduct studies and make deals.
“On our part, we have reported the facts of the partnership extensively, and have interviewed many businesspeople on how the partnership will boost our economy. We have also reported on how the agreement may help Cambodia emerge from Least Developed Country status before the end of the 2020s.
“Our reporting on the RCEP has certainly allowed our readership to gain deep insight on the partnership,” he said.
The RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) among the 10 ASEAN countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as five additional Asia-Pacific nations: Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The 15 signatories account for about 30 per cent of the world’s population (2.2 billion people) and 30 per cent of global GDP ($29.7 trillion), making the RCEP the world’s largest trading bloc.
Endorsed in November 2020, the RCEP is the first FTA among China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, which along with India form the list of Asia’s top five economies, according to official figures for nominal GDP. India famously withdrew from negotiations in November 2019, citing trade imbalances and other concerns.
Zhang Jianping, deputy director of the academic committee of the Chinese commerce ministry’s research institute, said that the RCEP has made a “good model of connection” between signatories for expanding trade and investment, and offers “very great opportunity” for the Asia-Pacific region.
Covering “most of the dynamic market of the world”, the pact “creates more drivers” for regional economic growth and development, he said, highlighting that China’s “huge market will create opportunity for economic growth” in a number of member states.
In February, the World Bank (WB) reported that Cambodia ranked third in both real income gains and export growth among RCEP members.
Cambodia is expected to register a 6.5 per cent uptick in terms of export growth, the highest after Vietnam and Japan at 11.4 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively, it said, adding that the deal has the potential to lift 27 million additional people to middle-class status by 2035.
Tayseng went on to say: “The RCEP is a complex and living agreement. Its wider dissemination and deeper understanding would be necessary because its effective implementation will depend on all signatory countries.
“Thus, as media outlets should collaborate more in forums such as this to be able to speak about strategies and outlook on reporting, and make commitments to report more on our regional partners.
“The RCEP Media & Think Tank Forum’s theme of ‘Working Together for Common Development’ is particularly apt in this regard,” he added.
Total trade volume between Cambodia and RCEP partners, including under the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and preferential schemes, topped $8.06 billion in January-March, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Of that, Cambodia’s exports amounted to $1.956 billion while imports were $6.106 billion.