New Territories, New Opportunities: Making the Most of the RCEP

Posted on May 4 , 2021. 

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On 15 November 2020, 10 ASEAN countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), along with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. This new free trade agreement exists outside of the WTO and represents approximately 30% of global GDP. Not all eligible countries elected to participate, however; India backed out amid concerns that some of its own industries would be put at risk upon entering the agreement.

The RCEP is viewed as a positive development for ASEAN economies as they attempt to boost their post-COVID economies. By extending free trade rules, reducing tariffs, increasing foreign investment, and enabling greater regional cooperation, this partnership will help support a vibrant and transparent international trade market.

Naturally, such widespread growth will require skilled talent to manage it – and Connexus Global has already begun tracking increased demand for recruitment across the region.

Opening up the economic landscape

As the RCEP’s policies are phased in, sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing will benefit from significantly lower trade barriers. Elsewhere, policies governing intellectual property and e-commerce will become modernised as well as standardised.

The closer integration of the economies of participating nations should also strengthen supply chains. Moreover, as lower tariffs boost international trade, overall production is forecasted to increase within the member countries.

For example, Singapore’s economy is on track to grow by 6% or more this year, thanks in part to its advantageous location within global and regional supply chains. In turn, this growth will attract added investment and new export opportunities as Singapore integrates more fully into the supply chains serving South Korea and China.

Industries such as garments, textiles, wood, and paper could grow swiftly over the first 10 years of the RCEP. Other sectors, such as chemicals, agriculture, electronics, and mining, will grow more over the long run. Participating countries within the RCEP can expect a GDP increase of 0.4% to 0.6% as a result of the partnership.

Growth requires talent

Thanks in part to RCEP, Connexus Global has observed an increasing number of companies across ASEAN preparing for business expansion by recruiting more skilled employees. Sales managers are in particularly high demand, as businesses look to enter new markets for the first time. Long-term positions in other fields, such as business development, have also seen notable spikes in demand.

Within the machinery sector, Indonesia and Vietnam have several new openings for Country Sales Manager positions. Myanmar’s agricultural industry is experiencing higher demand for Business Development Managers. In Utilities, heavy recruitment activity is currently underway for Business Development Directors in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Many organisations in Thailand are seeking to hire Trade Marketing Managers, as companies there look to gain market share in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Korea.

As Thailand prepares to enter the RCEP, its businesses may soon see increased exports to non-ASEAN countries like South Korea, China and Japan. The partnership will cause tariffs to disappear on 29,000 products – with subsequent reductions or eliminations planned for another 11,000 products.

For the RCEP to take effect, at least six ASEAN and three non-ASEAN countries must ratify the partnership – a threshold which may be reached soon. The much-anticipated economic agreement could usher in an important new era for trade across the region.

For individual businesses, however, growth will be anything but automatic. The right strategies must be in place in order to capitalise on new opportunities – and the right people must also be in place to execute those strategies effectively.

As RCEP prepares to launch, Connexus Global can help you plan and achieve your recruitment goals. From business development to marketing, sales, and other key positions, our talent recruitment services can put you ahead of the competition. If you are looking to expand your business capabilities through specialised talent, get in touch with us today.

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