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Chinese Forum Unites Think Tanks for Economic Growth


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Over 300 members of think tanks and media outlets from multiple countries, including Cambodia, convened in Haikou city, Hainan province, China, for the fourth RCEP Media and Think Tank Forum. The event, held yesterday, aimed to explore the shared economic benefits and cooperative opportunities among the 15 signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Co-organizers and Background

The forum was co-organized by the People’s Government of Hainan province, China Daily, the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD), the Centre for Strategic and International Studies of Indonesia, and the Belt and Road Initiative Caucus for Asia Pacific from Malaysia. The RCEP agreement, signed via video conference on November 15, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, involves the 10 ASEAN member states, China, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. After eight years of negotiations, the agreement came into force on January 1, 2022.

Promoting Regional Economic Growth

CIRD President Chi Fulin, in his welcoming remarks, emphasized the significant role RCEP has played in promoting regional economic growth. He highlighted that fully implementing the agreement and jointly building the world’s largest free trade area through pragmatic actions are major tasks for all its members.

“This year, the fourth RCEP Media & Think Tank Forum, themed ‘Shared Benefit, Win-Win Cooperation,’ focuses on fully implementing the RCEP agreement, building up the global economic growth center, improving the utilization rate of RCEP’s rules, advancing regional economic integration, and leveraging media and think tanks’ roles in advancing RCEP’s comprehensive implementation and upgrading,” Chi Fulin stated.

Economic Integration and Trade Growth

The past two years have seen significant growth in trade and investment within the RCEP region, promoting the integration of industrial and supply chains and advancing regional integration. Chi Fulin projected that in the next five to ten years, RCEP will continue to enhance the free flow of goods, services, technology, and capital, creating a more dynamic and larger market.

“It will promote coordination and alignment of market rules, standards, and supervision within the region, thus boosting the construction of a higher-level and bigger regional market,” Fulin added. He emphasized the need to improve the utilization rate of RCEP rules, eliminate non-tariff barriers, and shorten the transition period of tariff reduction to fully unlock the economic growth potential in China and ASEAN.

Role of Media and Think Tanks

Qu Yingpu, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of China Daily, called for increased collaboration among media outlets and think tanks from RCEP signatories to raise awareness and promote the regional economic agreement. “Think tanks and media outlets have a very important role in boosting the effectiveness of RCEP,” he noted. “They are platforms where the results of RCEP are publicized and also help the public understand RCEP and the benefits they are bringing.”

Cambodia’s Growing Exports

Cambodia’s exports to RCEP countries have continued to rise, indicating a growing market for the Kingdom’s products. In 2023, Cambodia exported $8.17 billion worth of goods to RCEP countries, a 28.8% increase from $6.34 billion in 2022. These exports accounted for 34.62% of Cambodia’s total trade of $23.6 billion in 2023. However, the two-way trade between Cambodia and RCEP countries saw a slight decrease of 5.07%, totaling $29.45 billion, which made up 61.3% of Cambodia’s total trade of $48.01 billion.

Future Prospects and Strategic Partnerships

According to a CIRD study, RCEP is expected to boost Cambodia’s exports by 30.82% by 2035, with significant export growth projected for Laos and Myanmar as well. Chheng Kimlong, President of the Asian Vision Institute, emphasized the strategic importance of RCEP for Cambodia’s economic growth.

“For Cambodia, it represents a huge economic and strategic partnership, which is crucial to further economic growth, especially when the Kingdom is setting on building the historic Funan Techno Canal, which will boost the country’s trade and foreign direct investments,” Kimlong said.

Fourth RCEP Media and Think Tank Forum

The fourth RCEP Media and Think Tank Forum underscored the importance of collaborative efforts among think tanks and media in promoting regional economic integration and maximizing the benefits of the RCEP agreement. As the region continues to navigate the complexities of economic growth and integration, such forums play a crucial role in shaping future policies and strategies.

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