China and 14 other countries agreed Sunday to set up the world’s largest trading bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the pandemic.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed virtually on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“I am delighted to say that after eight years of hard work, as of today, we have officially brought RCEP negotiations to a conclusion for signing,” said host country Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
“The conclusion of RCEP negotiation, the largest free trade agreement in the world, will send a strong message that affirms ASEAN’s leading role in supporting the multilateral trading system, creating a new trading structure in the region, enabling sustainable trade facilitation, revitalizing the supply chains disrupted by COVID-19 and assisting the post pandemic recovery,” Phuc said.
The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time, and is less comprehensive than an 11-nation trans-Pacific trade deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.
Apart from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, it includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States. Officials said the accord leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc.
It is not expected to go as far as the European Union in integrating member economies but does build on existing free trade arrangements.
The deal has powerful symbolic ramifications, showing that nearly four years after Trump launched his “America First” policy of forging trade deals with individual countries, Asia remains committed to multi-nation efforts toward freer trade that are seen as a formula for future prosperity.
Ahead of Sunday’s RCEP “special summit” meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would firmly convey his government’s support for “broadening a free and fair economic zone, including a possibility of India’s future return to the deal, and hope to gain support from the other countries.”
The accord is also a coup for China, by far the biggest market in the region with more than 1.3 billion people, allowing Beijing to cast itself as a “champion of globalization and multilateral cooperation” and giving it greater influence over rules governing regional trade, Gareth Leather, senior Asian economist for Capital Economics, said in a report.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Premier Li Keqiang hailing the agreement as a victory against protectionism, in remarks delivered via a video link.
“The signing of the RCEP is not only a landmark achievement of East Asian regional cooperation, but also a victory of multilateralism and free trade,” Li said.
Now that Trump’s opponent Joe Biden has been declared president-elect, the region is watching to see how U.S. policy on trade and other issues will evolve.
Analysts are skeptical Biden will push hard to rejoin the trans-Pacific trade pact or to roll back many of the U.S. trade sanctions imposed on China by the Trump administration given widespread frustration with Beijing’s trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft.
Critics of free trade agreements say they tend to encourage companies to move manufacturing jobs overseas. So, having won over disaffected rust-belt voters in Michigan and western Pennsylvania in the Nov. 3 election, Biden is “not going to squander that by going back into TPP,” Michael Jonathan Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a web seminar.
But given concerns over China’s growing influence, Biden is likely to seek much more engagement with Southeast Asia to protect U.S. interests, he said.
The fast-growing and increasingly affluent Southeast Asian market of 650 million people has been hit hard by the pandemic and is urgently seeking fresh drivers for growth.
RCEP originally would have included about 3.6 billion people and encompassed about a third of world trade and global GDP. Minus India, it still covers more than 2 billion people and close to a third of all trade and business activity.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the retooled version of the North American Free Trade Agreement under Trump, covers slightly less economic activity but less than a tenth of the world’s population. The EU and Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, the revised version of the deal Trump rejected, also are smaller. RCEP includes six of the 11 remaining CPTPP members.
India balked at exposing its farmers and factories to more foreign competition. Among other concerns, Indian dairy farmers are worried about competition from New Zealand and Australian milk and cheese producers. Automakers fear imports from across the region. But overall the biggest fear is over a flood of manufactured goods from China.
Trade and investment flows within Asia have vastly expanded over the past decade, a trend that has accelerated amid feuding between the U.S. and China, which have imposed billions of dollars’ worth of punitive tariffs on each other’s exports.
The RCEP agreement is loose enough to stretch to fit the disparate needs of member countries as diverse as Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Unlike the CPTPP and EU, it does not establish unified standards on labor and the environment or commit countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies.
But it does set rules for trade that will facilitate investment and other business within the region, Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Center, said in a report for the Asia Society.
“RCEP, therefore, is a much-needed platform for the Indo-Pacific’s post-COVID recovery,” he wrote.
ASEAN members include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Bangladeshi electronics giant Walton has accomplished another milestone in its exports business and started exporting locally made washing machines to India.
With this, Walton has added one more item to its existing export to the neighboring county, including refrigerator, air conditioner, television and some other home appliances, said a press release.
Sources said Walton is supplying a giant volume of semi-automatic washing machine to a South Korean renowned brand as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).
The ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tagged Walton made products will be sold in Indian market.
Walton is going to ship out the first consignment of washing machine to India on November 15.
The announcement was made at an inauguration ceremony titled ‘Exporting Washing Machine to India’ held at Walton Corporate Office in the capital on Wednesday.
The function was attended by Walton’s Deputy Managing Director Nazrul Islam Sarker, Executive Directors SM Zahid Hasan and Md. Humayun Kabir, International Business Unit (IBU) President Edward Kim and Walton Home Appliances’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Engineer Al Imran.
Among others, Walton’s Senior Operative Directors Roqibul Islam and Engineer Syed Al Imran, Deputy Operative Director Engineer Abdur Rouf, Additional Director Augustin Sujan, Senior Operative Director Chiranjit Paul, Deputy Director Olga Alam were present on the occasion.
Walton Home Appliances’ CEO Engineer Al Imran said Washing machine has huge demands around the globe and its annual market is around 60 billion USD. The annual demands of washing machine in the Indian market is around 10 million units.
Thus it would be a promising market for Walton as well as Bangladesh. By next year, he noted, Walton planned to export at least 100k unit of washing machines to India.
Walton authorities said, the production and marketing of international standard washing machines with the advanced features at reasonable prices have resulted in the growing demands at domestic and international market.
In the last five months (June to October), the sales of Walton washing machine was swelled up by about 80 percent compared to the previous year’s corresponding period. In the same period, washing machine exports have also increased. Along with the Indian market, Walton is exporting washing machines to Nepal, Yemen, East Timor and some other countries.
Walton’s Washing Machine R&D (Research and Development) Head Moniruzzaman Karjon said that since 2017, they have been manufacturing international standard washing machine with advanced technologies in line with the buyers’ choice, demand, purchasing capacity as well as suitability of weather.
Walton’s washing machine manufacturing unit is equipped with international standard R&D department as well as testing lab with cutting-edge technologies and machineries, he added.
A team of very talented and skilled engineers are engaged in conducting regular research on innovative designs, latest technologies and features, and also improving the product’s quality, he noted.
And thus, customers are getting best quality products at competitively reasonable prices, he added.
Walton is manufacturing and marketing 14 models of different capacities, ranging from 6 to 12.5 kg, energy efficient semi-automatic and automatic washing machines with top and front loading functions which are priced between Tk 6,900 and Tk 48,000.
Walton is providing up to 10 years guaranty for main parts (motor) of its washing machine, along with five year home service as well as one year free after sales service.
Also read: Walton shares Tk 77cr profits with employees
bKash is offering 15 percent instant cashback up to tk 300 on purchase of products from Daraz under 11.11, the biggest sale festival.
The offer will be valid from November 11 to November 17, said a press release.
11.11 is the biggest shopping festival across the world which provides great shopping experience to the customers.
This year, Daraz 11.11 is bringing huge discounts on more than 15 million products for the customers.
Following the response of previous 11.11 big sale campaigns, bKash has integrated a quick payment option for the customers this year.
Customers will need to enter bKash account number and OTP for successful transaction of the account that is saved with the Daraz account.
For all subsequent payments, they need to enter bKash PIN only. However, only one bKash account can be saved in one Daraz account.
Daraz Bangladesh, an online marketplace which is a concern of Alibaba Group is hosting the 11.11 campaign for the third time in Bangladesh.
Other details will be available at Daraz website.
PRAN-RFL Group’s Varendra Industrial Park at Godagari in Rajshahi, is collecting agro based products including mango, tomato, olive and guava, based on season, from the local farmers and making pulp in the park.
The park is now almost ready to collect pineapple, watermelon, cucumber and aloe-vera for pulping, said a press release.
The park will create four to five thousand jobs, of which 95 percent job holders will be local, once it starts the full operation.
Besides, the country's leading conglomerate has plans to produce frozen foods and noodles in the park soon if it gets necessary support from the concerned departments of the government.
The park will create four to five thousand jobs, of which 95 percent job holders will be local, once it starts full operation.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, Director (Marketing) at PRAN-RFL Group, confirmed the matter on Tuesday at a view exchange meeting with Rajshahi journalists at the conference room of the park.
He said, “Agricultural extension and socio-economic development of the farmers are the key purpose of PRAN Group.”
“The group has chosen Godagari to establish the park so that farmers of Rajshahi area can able to sell their products at low transport cost without any middleman.”, he said.
“We are now collecting mango, tomato, olive and also producing compost fertilizer. Farmers and common people are now getting benefits from our initiatives because they are now able to provide their products to PRAN and getting job in this park.”, he added.
PRAN-RFL Group has set up the park at Amanatpur of Gadagari in 2017 on 34 acres of land.
The Rangpur zone of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) held a webinar titled ‘Compliance of Shari`ah in Banking Sector’ on Saturday.
Md Zakir Hossain, Director of the bank addressed the programme as the chief guest where Md Qaisar Ali, Additional Managing Director of the bank was special guest, said a press release.
Dr Mohammad Monzur-E-Elahi, Member of IBBL Sharia Supervisory Committee addressed the webinar as the chief discussant while Dr Md Ruhul Amin Rabbani, Member Additional Secretary of the committee was special discussant.
Mir Rahmat Ullah, Executive Vice President presided over the programme where Md Shamsuddoha, Executive Vice President were present.
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