ASEAN’s Fate Hangs in a RCEP Balance – Unions For Trade Justice

ASEAN’s Fate Hangs in a RCEP Balance

25 March 2021 2-3PM time of Bangkok

As ASEAN countries set out to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Dr. Rashmi Banga from the UNCTAD shared new evidence on the potential economic impact of RCEP on ASEAN countries.

A new Study shows that while ASEAN countries might have signed the RCEP with the hope of increasing their exports, instead RCEP will worsen ASEAN’s goods trade balance by 6% per year. Some ASEAN countries will also lose significant tariff revenue due to RCEP at a time when budgets are already stretched due to COVID-19. Malaysia is expected to lose USD 2.2 billion a year in tariff revenue due to RCEP, which is equivalent to the yearly wage of more than 230,000 nurses and other health workers. Similarly, Cambodia’s revenue loss from RCEP is equivalent to 1.24% of it’s 2019 GDP which is almost the same as it’s entire public health expenditure of the country that stands at 1.28% of GDP.

This is especially noteworthy because the expected benefits for ASEAN from the goods chapter were supposed to offset the costs of other RCEP chapters.

Watch the virtual press conference.

Read the Key Findings, the Full Report, and the press release.


  • Dr. Rashmi Banga, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva
  • Dr Ika Riswanti Putranti,Vice Dean, Diponegoro University,  Indonesia 
  • Josua Mata, Secretary General, SENTRO, Philippines

Moderator: Susana Barria, Trade Justice Campaigner, Public Services International (PSI)

Organisers: Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Focus on The Global South, GRAIN, Indonesia For Global Justice (IGJ), Public Services International, Asia Pacific (PSI), Trade Justice Pilipinas

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