EABC, AEM plus 3 meet to discuss economic recovery measures: call for the signing of RCEP

The East Asia Business Council (EABC) recently met with the ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers to discuss key measures to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and urged governments to speed up the signing of the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP).


The EABC, a grouping of business sector leaders from ASEAN plus China, Korea and Japan, regularly holds dialogue with the Government Leaders and Economic Ministers to provide private sector feedback and promote economic cooperation and growth in the region.


At the 47th Interface with ASEAN Plus 3 Economic Ministers Meeting, EABC presented the results of the survey conducted by JETRO on Business Outlook and Digital Strategy towards the New Normal, which essentially drives businesses to adapt digital technology in navigating their business. The survey is also expected to help formulate the digital technology strategy of the East Asian region.


The Council also appealed to fastrack the signing of RCEP as it would open up for more market access opportunities for businesses, especially the MSMEs in the region.


“While it is imperative for India to come on board to conclude RCEP negotiations as India is Asia’s third largest economy with one of the largest consumer markets. Nonetheless, the Business Council agrees that the 15 member countries of RCEP should proceed to sign the RCEP agreement by the end of 2020 and India can join when ready,” the report said. 


The AEM+3 representatives have signified their commitment to sign RCEP this year.  The report further reads “ASEAN Secretariat believed that the signing of RCEP will make the region stronger and RCEP could be a good platform that managed to counter the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.


Other recommendations presented by the EABC include the strengthening of the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) to include other agricultural commodities such as salt, sugar, flour, edible oil, among others; integration between APT website and EABEX for a concerted effort in promoting greater awareness on both public and private sector collaboration for regional development; and the launching of an e-Book on East Asia Customs Practices in December 2019 to provide MSME simpler and faster trade info and procedures


RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN, Japan, China, Korea, New Zealand and Australia launched by ASEAN and East Asia Leaders in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012.  It potentially covers more than 3 billion people or 45% of the world's population, and a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion, accounting for about 40 percent of world trade.


Mr. George T. Barcelon, Chairman Emeritus of PCCI and Private Sector Representative to the LEDAC is one of the three Philippine members of the EABC.