KUALA LUMPUR : The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement may prove to be the tonic that Asia needs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced economic slump, said HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd (HSBC Malaysia) today.
Chief executive officer Stuart Milne said although international trade continued to face uncertainty, the signing of the RCEP underscored the belief in market openness and that it will lead to greater economic growth.
“Intra-Asian trade, which is already larger than Asia’s trade with North America and Europe combined, will continue to power global economic growth and pull the economic centre of gravity towards Asia.
“We hope RCEP members will build on the progress they have made and further liberalise trade and investment in the region,” he said in a statement today.
The RCEP agreement has finally been signed today (Sunday) after going through 31 rounds of negotiations over the past eight years.
The signing of the RCEP, which is the world’s biggest free trade agreement (FTA), represents a significant and imperative milestone in the integration and revitalisation of economies of the 15 parties.
Milne said Malaysia could further strengthen its cross-border trade and economic ties with RCEP partners as the country serves as a gateway to ASEAN member countries.
“With greater market access, Malaysian businesses can look forward to growing regionally and beyond.
“In addition, we look forward to more investments into the country and the region as a whole with more foreign companies setting up their production base in ASEAN given that the RCEP effectively allows convergence between the FTAs,” said Milne.
With Malaysia as a key strategic market for HSBC, the bank remains committed to serving Malaysian businesses and helping to develop the country as an investment hub in the ASEAN region, he added.
He said HSBC was focused on accelerating growth from its Asian franchise while its international banking network provides access to more than 90 per cent of global gross domestic product, trade and capital flows.
“The network covers the world’s largest and fastest-growing trade corridors and economic zones and will be able to support clients to capture opportunities in the region,” said Milne.