On 15th of November 2020, Japan signed an agreement along with ten ASEAN nations, in addition with Australia, New Zealand and South Korea to initiate RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which aimed to lower or abolish tariffs within the 15 nations.
Consequently, the size and population of this Economic sphere comes to 30% of whole globe which is largest economic zone in the world.
Australia and New Zealand reluctantly signed and India refused to sign it.
Apparently, this RCEP seems to be a good compatibility relation benefit for all the member nations to enjoy lower tariffs within the member nations, however critics are sounding alarm bells.
There are a couple of reasons of this alarm:
One of the provisions stipulates “country of origin” within the member nations are not required to attach on each product and are handled as domestic products.
For example, 99% of the materials to make a ready-made fried rice are from China cooked with Japanese salt and pepper makes it “made in RCEP” but not the materials “made in China.”
China is known for tainted foods and products, by this rule within the RCEP virtually omits to mention the country of origin in any food product as well as other items produced within member nations.
It is not the only issue concerning this agreement.
China has been aiming to make their currency Yuan to the hard currency for decades and now they are preparing to use digital Yuan for their trade.
It is obvious China is the producer for many products and the other 14 nations are consumers for most of their products.
China will gradually request to use digital Chinese Yuan instead of U.S. Dollars within this nations.
One of the provisions stipulates to accelerate the use of “digital settlement” on which China might be thinking to switch settlement currency from U.S. Dollars or other hard currencies to Chinese Yuan.
China is the one who proposed RCEP to those 14 nations which means it is a part of their “One belt and one road initiatives.”
The Japanese government is claiming by joining RCEP “it is an opportunity to let China obey the rules and improve their standard.”
The member nations who signed RCEP need to pay attention to China’s ongoing oppression toward minorities such as Uyghurs, Tibetans, South Mongolians and others who have been invaded by Chinese force. Constrained millions of them into concentration camps (China refers it Re-education camp), used as slave labors.
Also, if we look at the current situation in Hong Kong, all the human rights are deprived.
Signing on to RCEP is the same as closing eyes for the monetary benefit rather than human rights. The member nations need to be ashamed themselves.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed on an executive order to ban any merchandizes from China produced by forced labors.
This must be a critical misjudgment of Japan as well as other 13 member nations excluding China because it is nothing but just to strengthen China’s control over the region.
Japan needs to take initiative to make similar trade agreement with Taiwan, India and Australia to maintain democracy and free market.
If you can’t learn from the history, you will be the loser.