PHNOM PENH, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade pact, and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) are the catalysts for economic growth in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, officials and academics said on Friday.
Both RCEP and the CCFTA entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022. RCEP comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking at a hybrid international conference on RCEP and the CCFTA, the Cambodian government's senior advisor Sok Siphana said both pacts are crucial to help recover the pandemic-hit economies in Cambodia and in the region.
"I think the two free trade agreements would be a big boost to our economies, although the effect will not be tomorrow," he said.
The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's secretary of state Sim Sokheng said the two deals have given Cambodia larger market access and will play an important role in attracting more foreign investors, especially Chinese ones, to the country.
"The two agreements have opened a new chapter of cooperation for prosperity and development between Cambodia and China in particular and between Cambodia and other RCEP members in general," he said.
"RCEP not only promotes the regional economic integration, but also underscores the commitment of all member countries towards multilateralism in the face of rising protectionism," he added.
Being the world's largest trade bloc, RCEP has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars, representing around 30 percent of global GDP, 28 percent of global trade, and 32.5 percent of global investment, he said.
Sokheng said under the RCEP pact, Cambodia is expected to see a year's export growth at 9.4 percent to 18 percent, which will contribute to the national economic growth from 2 percent to 3.8 percent.
For the CCFTA, he said the deal is projected to raise Cambodia's annual export to China by 25 percent.
Wu Guoquan, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, said both agreements have laid a strong foundation for China and Cambodia to boost economic and trade relations.
"Under RCEP and the CCFTA, I believe that the cooperation between China and Cambodia in jointly building the 'Belt and Road' will be accelerated and the quality of the cooperation will be higher," he said.
Kavi Chongkittavorn, a senior fellow at the Chulalongkorn University's Institute of Security and International Studies in Thailand, said RCEP is pivotal in three areas of global trade, namely rule-based trade, huge market access and economic cooperation.
"RCEP is a major catalyst to open up the domestic market, enlarge huge resources for trade and investment, and connect regional and global value chain activities," he said.
Kavi said RCEP has provided golden opportunities to Cambodia and facilitates its post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery through huge market access and market diversification.
"All countries benefit from RCEP due to huge market access, but Cambodia, the young and dynamic 'little tiger' economy will benefit more," he said.