A business advisory council for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been set up by the private sector to review and strengthen the implementation of the agreement as well as maximise its benefits.
The council will also monitor and track the rollout and operation of RCEP, said Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Ly Kunthai.
Consultations with the private sector will be conducted to discuss and collect input so that it can make recommendations to the RCEP leadership to ensure mutual benefits from the agreement.
Kunthai, who is also president of the Cambodia Footwear Association, said the business advisory council, which is chaired by CCC president Kith Meng, is an expansion of the RCEP working group.
It now includes members from the East Asia Business Council, Australian Industrial Working Group and New Zealand International Business Forum.
“The establishment of the RCEP business advisory council is important [because] it [will] provide a report on recommendations to the ASEAN Plus Three leaders which [represents] the common voice of the private sector,” Kunthai said.
The council, which held its first meeting on April 22, discussed matters including its charter, the implementation of the RCEP and plans for the year.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Penn Sovicheat said exports under the RCEP in the first three months of 2022 were more than $2 billion.
Total trade volume between Cambodia and RCEP partners including preferential schemes and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) surpassed $8.06 billion during the period.
Of that, Cambodia’s exports amounted to $1.956 billion while imports were $6.106 billion.
“We have observed that Cambodia has benefitted as expected. It is also a reflection of the accuracy of studies which showed that Cambodia will benefit a lot, although at the beginning, most exporters were still using the existing preferential system.
“Both RCEP and the CCFTA are complementary and provide benefits as we graduate from the least developed country status, where preferential treatments will lapse,” he said.
A senior commerce ministry official, who declined to be named, shared that many exporters have applied for the Certificate of Origin in RCEP and CCFTA to export under the two agreements.
“Most of them are garment, rice, fruit and vegetable exporters who do business with China and [South] Korea,” the official said.