Japan on Friday ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement between China, Australia, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Tokyo becomes the third member to ratify the agreement, which was signed by 15 countries in November last year. Among the signatories, Singapore and China have completed ratification procedures.
It deposited its ratification instrument with the ASEAN Secretariat, Kyodo News reported.
The Cabinet approved the accord Friday, completing Tokyo's necessary domestic procedures for the ratification.
It will be Japan's first trade deal involving both China and South Korea -- its largest and third-biggest trade partners.
"The deal will strengthen the link between Japan and the (Asia-Pacific) region, which is the world's growth center, and will contribute to Japan's economic growth when it comes into force," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said at a press conference.
The Japanese government estimated earlier this year that the trade treaty could lift the gross domestic product of the world's third-largest economy by about 2.7 per cent.
The pact, signed by 15 countries last November, will enter into effect 60 days after it is ratified by at least six ASEAN members and three other signatory countries.
The RCEP groups the 10 ASEAN states -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam -- as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. It is described as the "largest" regional trading agreement to this day.
The RCEP was originally being negotiated between 16 countries including India.
In November last year, India decided not to join the RCEP agreement as its key concerns were not addressed.
The key reasons behind New Delhi's decision to remain out of the world's biggest trade agreement include inadequate protection against import surge, insufficient differential with China, possible circumvention of rules of origin, keeping the base year as 2014 and no credible assurances on market access and non-tariff barriers.
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