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RCEP Signing A Win, But India Must Still Be Pursued

The official signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement over the weekend is a win for New Zealand, says Business Central Chief Executive, John Milford.

"At a time when protectionism and economic nationalism is on the rise, becoming party to the world’s largest multilateral trade agreement is a huge positive for a small, trade-reliant, nation like ours," says Milford.

"While New Zealand already has trade agreements with each signatory to the agreement, RCEP improves on our current deals by providing a clear set of rules across the entire region and deepening our trade connections.

"We know that our importers and exporters struggle most with red tape, accessing opportunities, and dealing with different rules across different markets. The RCEP will significantly reduce these barriers, and in doing so add $2 billion to our GDP overall.

"Trade will play a pivotal role in our effort to recover from COVID-19. The RCEP will support Kiwi businesses with greater opportunities, generating more economic activity, supporting businesses to invest, grow, and employ.

"While the signing of RCEP is a win overall, we are disappointed that India had withdrawn from the agreement. A deal with India would have been a real bonus for New Zealand in the RCEP proposal, as they are the only country involved in the agreement that we do not currently have an FTA with. It is disappointing that we missed out on this, and we must keep pursuing a deal with India.

"New Zealand’s two-way trade with India is currently around $3 billion. If you look at our two-way trade with China, we’ve added about $20 billion to it since signing an FTA. Imagine what we could achieve if we could land an agreement with India."

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