by | Jun 8, 2016 | Trade Working Blog, Uncategorized


It’s not a secret – negotiators from the sixteen member economies of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are meeting in Auckland 12-18 June.

RCEP brings together the ten ASEAN economies plus the three North Asian giants (China, Japan and Korea) and Australia, New Zealand and India. RCEP is sometimes styled as a sort of Chinese-led version of TPP. It is not. ASEAN is in the driving seat, not China. And while on paper RCEP might appear as ambitious as TPP, it may not yet reach as far.

As we posted on this site back in December “clearly RCEP has the potential to be a very significant trade agreement if it lives up to its goal of being a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement. RCEP seeks to build on ASEAN’s network of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). The trouble is that some of these FTAs weren’t all that ambitious to start with. At the half way stage of the RCEP talks, there are signs that the market access provisions will be less exciting than TPP”.

Some water has flown under the bridge since then but RCEP needs to be more ambitious if it is to deliver for the region’s businesses. That includes a high level of tariff elimination, flexible rules of origin, services liberalisation and measures to streamline regional value chains through trade facilitation, investment and regulatory coherence and co-operation. Measures to ensure the agreement is relevant to SMEs are important. Don’t hold your breath though for the sort of enforceable environment and labour commitments we see in TPP.

New Zealand already has FTAs with 14 of the 16 RCEP participants. TPP, once ratified, will deliver an FTA with Japan leaving India as the main interest for us. Our own bilateral FTA negotiations with India have languished in recent years. An ambitious and comprehensive RCEP could also play a role, alongside TPP, in creating a pathway for wider regional trade liberalisation.

As host for this 13th round of RCEP negotiations the New Zealand is organising two stakeholder sessions on Tuesday 14 June at the Sky City Convention Centre for those wanting to find out about or make input into these negotiations. Further information is available at https://mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/agreements-under-negotiation/rcep/

This post was written by NZIBF Executive Director Stephen Jacobi.


Register to stay up to date with latest news, as well as saving and discussing articles you’re interested in.

Latest News


Perhaps a cyclone was after all a fitting backdrop for the meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) which was held in Auckland on 12-14 February – the global environment against which the meeting took place is decidedly stormy.  In the event the wind...


As I write this end of year dispatch, NZIBF is preparing to host the first meeting for 2023 of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).  We are looking forward to welcoming the 200 or so business leaders and senior officials from APEC member economies across the...

NZ Herald: Time to lift our game in India

Following his recent visit to India our Executive Director Stephen Jacobi penned this article advocating a more strategic approach to the further development of the relationship. The article was published by the NZ Herald on 9 December.

APEC Rolls out Priorities for 2023

Issued by the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting - Honolulu, The United States, 13 December 2022 Aiming to provide tailwinds for member economies to strengthen recovery and resilience, as well as advance broad-based economic growth, the United States rolled out its...

NZIBF 2022 Chair Report

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2022 CHAIR’S REPORT I am pleased to present my second report on the activities and achievements of the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) for 2022-23, our fifteenth year of operations.  At the outset I would like to thank Members for...


New Zealand business will be represented at the APEC Leaders’ Week in Bangkok, commencing 13 November, by members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). New Zealand’s three members – Rachel Taulelei, Malcolm Johns and Anna Curzon – supported by Stephen Jacobi...

Submission to MFAT for CPTPP Review

30 September 2022 Phil Mellor Economic Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington (By email) Dear Phil, Thank you for your email of 1 September, seeking our comments on the three year review of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans...