At Nanning International Railway Port in China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, containers of mini tillers are loaded onto China-Vietnam freight trains, ready for their cross-border journey.
The owner of these China-made mini tillers is Vu Quang Hai, who runs a farming machinery company in Vietnam. He has imported over 2,800 mini tillers from China since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement took effect on Jan 1.
The RCEP agreement, the world’s largest free trade deal, covers the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its five free trade agreement partners, namely China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
RCEP countries account for roughly 30 percent of the world’s GDP and population. Over 90 percent of trade in goods among approved member states will gradually be tariff-free.
“The RCEP agreement has brought tangible benefits to merchants engaged in cross-border trade like me. Those tillers are rather popular in Vietnam, and my business is doing better than ever,” he said.
The convenient and affordable cross-border rail transport has also facilitated the business, he added.
Qin Yufang with China Railway Nanning Group Co Ltd told Xinhua News Agency that demand for cross-border railway freight transportation between China and ASEAN member states has been booming this year.
“A total of 57 Vietnam-bound freight trains departed from China in the first quarter of the year, registering a sharp (year-on-year) increase of 128 percent. And over 20 new types of goods, including glassware, farm machinery and biscuits, have been included,” Qin said.
Besides tariff reductions, the free trade pact also plays a positive role in expanding market access for investment, harmonizing rules and regulations, streamlining Customs procedures and setting standards and rules concerning the development of e-commerce and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Tong Kui Boon, a Malaysian wine dealer in China, was excited to hear about the implementation of the RCEP agreement in Malaysia.
“I have lived in China for nine years, and I believe the RCEP agreement not only facilitates trade exchanges but also offers wider cultural exchanges. More and more of my friends in Malaysia are now considering participating in trade with China,” Tong said.
China released a guideline in January to push for high-quality implementation of the RCEP pact and deepen reform via high-level opening-up.
It stated that China will further improve trade and investment facilitation, boost the role of renminbi settlements in supporting trade and investment, and strengthen cooperation in high-end industrial chain and manufacturing projects to foster a diversified global supply chain network.
“We have, since this year, exported nearly 5 million yuan ($786,000) of goods to Malaysia. And the total export volume to RCEP countries has exceeded 50 million yuan,” said Zheng Zuguo, manager of a liquid crystal display manufacturer in Beihai, Guangxi province.
Zheng said the company has been exporting products to Malaysia for many years. With the implementation of the RCEP agreement in Malaysia, the company is expected to receive millions of yuan in tariff reductions for its products sold to Malaysia every year.
“Orders from Malaysia have risen about 20 percent year-on-year so far this year,” Zheng said.
Comprehensive and high-level multilateral e-commerce rules have taken shape in the Asia-Pacific region after the RCEP agreement took effect. This has led to a more convenient and orderly development environment.
Benjamas Tanvetyanont, Thai consul-general in Nanning, Guangxi’s capital, joined a livestreaming session in late March to promote products, and said events like livestreaming help promote economic and trade relations between Thailand and China, adding that e-commerce can help increase incomes in rural areas in both countries.