Category Archives: Asia

RCEP: Asia-Pacific nations sign world’s biggest trade pact

While the USA is embroiled in a meaningless fight between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Asia has had enough and is deciding to go on its own way. This is the future people and it does not include North America or Europe. 

Source

http://www.aljazeera.com

15 Nov 2020

The China-backed RCEP deal excludes the US and will account for 30 percent of the world’s economy and population.

ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific leaders pose for a group photo during the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019 [Manan Vatsyayana/ AFP]
ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific leaders pose for a group photo during the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019 [Manan Vatsyayana/ AFP]

China and 14 other countries have agreed to form the world’s largest free-trade bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed virtually on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In the online ceremony, leaders of RCEP countries took turns standing behind their trade ministers who, one by one, signed copies of the agreement, which they then showed triumphantly to the cameras.

“RCEP will soon be ratified by signatory countries and take effect, contributing to the post-COVID pandemic economic recovery,” said Nguyen Xuan Phuc, prime minister of Vietnam, which hosted the ceremony as ASEAN chair.

RECP will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time. It will account for 30 percent of the global economy, 30 percent of the global population and reach 2.2 billion consumers, according to Vietnam.

RCEP  “will help reduce or remove tariffs on industrial and agricultural products and set out rules for data transmission,” said Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department at Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

In addition to the 10 ASEAN nations, the accord includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States. Officials said the accord leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc.

“After eight years of negotiating with blood, sweat and tears, we have finally come to the moment where we will seal the RCEP Agreement,” Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, said in a statement ahead of the ceremony.

The deal sends a signal that RCEP countries have chosen “to open our markets instead of resorting to protectionist measures during this difficult time,” he said.

The accord is a coup for China, by far the biggest market in the region with more than 1.3 billion people, allowing Beijing to cast itself as a “champion of globalisation and multilateral cooperation” and giving it greater influence over rules governing regional trade, Gareth Leather, senior Asian economist for Capital Economics, said in a report.

The US is absent from RCEP and the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that US President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office. This leaves the world’s biggest economy out of two trade groups that span the fastest-growing region on earth.

Now that Trump’s opponent Joe Biden has been declared president-elect, the region is watching to see how US policy on trade and other issues will evolve.

Analysts are skeptical Biden will push hard to rejoin the trans-Pacific trade pact or to roll back many of the US trade sanctions imposed on China by the Trump administration given the widespread frustration with Beijing’s trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft.

Ahead of Sunday’s RCEP “special summit” meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would firmly convey his government’s support for “broadening a free and fair economic zone, including a possibility of India’s future return to the deal and hope to gain support from the other countries”.

The RCEP agreement is loose enough to stretch to fit the disparate needs of member countries as diverse as Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Unlike the European Union, it does not establish unified standards on labour and the environment or commit countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies.

But it does set rules for trade that will facilitate investment and other business within the region, Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Centre, said in a report for the Asia Society, an organisation that promotes US-Asia understanding.

“RCEP, therefore, is a much-needed platform for the Indo-Pacific’s post-COVID recovery,” he wrote.

The pact will take effect once enough participating countries ratify the agreement domestically within the next two years.

ASEAN members include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

SOURCE : NEWS AGENCIES

EU admitted “American-led system” nears its end

European Union looks towards Asia to preserve its interests in the 21st century

EU admitted “American-led system” nears its end

“This comes as the U.S. is approaching 2 million cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. Earlier this month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 14.7% with the Federal Reserve estimating it could reach a high of 25%. Pre-coronavirus data found that 29.9% of Americans live close to poverty while 5.3% of the population live in deep poverty and 11.1% of American households, were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all people within the house.”

duran.com

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes.” He said that the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst to shift power from West to East and that “pressure to choose sides is growing”  for the EU, before adding that the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalised by one or the other.”

Borrell said “we only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline,” noting that an upcoming EU-China summit this autumn could be an opportunity to do so. “We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia.”

As China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Russia will become some of the world’s biggest economies by 2030, according to Standard Chartered Plc, the 21st century is known as the “Asian Century.”  So, the EU has a serious decision to make on whether to continue its hostile approach towards Russia if it wishes to have more straight forward trade access to Asia. Putin has made incentives for colonists to populate the Far East of Russia to boost its small population of under seven million people who live close to China to fully and better engage in the “Asian Century.”

European trade with Asia could be done through the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian transportation routes, and this would also bypass China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Macron last year made a Facebook post where he said “progress on many political and economic issues is evident, for we’re trying to develop Franco-Russian relations. I’m convinced that, in this multilateral restructuring, we must develop a security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia.” With Macron emphasizing a European-Russian rapprochement, he then expanded on General de Gaulle’s famous quote that Europe stretches “from Lisbon to the Urals,” by saying that Europe reaches Vladivostok which is near the Chinese and North Korean border.

According to experts China’s foreign investment in the advanced development zone accounts for about 59.1% of all foreign investments in the region. The Russian Far East has a huge investment potential, especially with materials, natural resources, fisheries, and tourism, and China aims to take advantage of the mostly underdeveloped region. The region is not only resource rich, but is strategically located as it borders China, Mongolia and North Korea, and has a maritime border with Japan.

With France’s recognition of Vladivostok and Borrell now acknowledging that the power centers of the world are shifting to the East, the EU has little choice but to make a rapprochement with Russia and end its sanctions regime. In addition, it would be in the EU’s interests not to engage in anti-China actions on behalf of the U.S.

China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that it has not only recovered and restarted its economy, but that it engages in large-scale soft power projections by delivering tons upon tons of medical aid to every region in the world and has sent doctors and nurses to the most affected countries. This comes as the U.S. is approaching 2 million cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. Earlier this month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 14.7% with the Federal Reserve estimating it could reach a high of 25%. Pre-coronavirus data found that 29.9% of Americans live close to poverty while 5.3% of the population live in deep poverty and 11.1% of American households, were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all people within the house. Despite the growing social and domestic problems in the U.S., it is unlikely that Washington will give up its global hegemony so easily.

But Borrell seems to have little confidence that the U.S. will maintain its global leadership and is now eyeing China and the East as the EU’s new main trading partner. Effectively, as the Anglo World attempts to maintain the Atlanticist dominance, the EU is recognizing that its future lies with Eurasia.