TOKYO, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) — Japanese business leaders on Sunday welcomed the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, expecting it to boost trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.
Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation known as Keidanren, said, “The signing is extremely significant toward realizing a free and open international economic order” at a time when some countries are becoming inward-looking amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to local media, the mega trade deal among 15 Asia-Pacific countries, covering about 46 percent of Japan’s total trade, will be the country’s first trade deal with both China, its largest trading partner, and South Korea, its third largest.
Under the deal, supply chains established by Japanese companies in Asia “will become more broad, effective and resilient,” said Akio Mimura, chairman of Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand signed the RCEP on Sunday, launching the world’s biggest free trade bloc.
Ken Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Foreign Trade Council, told reporters that the trade deal is of great significance to Japan.
After signing the agreement, Japan’s Trade Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said the 15 countries were seeking to wrap up domestic procedures and put the pact into effect “as quickly as possible.”
Kajiyama believed that the pact will contribute to expanding Japan’s exports of industrial and agricultural products to other Asian countries, and also to the establishment of free and fair economic rules in the region.