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Hong Kong applies to join RCEP trade agreement

Member countries accounted for 70% of city's exports and imports last year

Kwai Chung Container Terminal in Hong Kong: RCEP member countries account for about 30% of the world's output, trade and population.   © Reuters

HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- Hong Kong has submitted an application to join the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, a mega trade agreement involving countries such as Japan and South Korea, the government said on Wednesday.

The move would expand Hong Kong's free trade with Japan and South Korea, both of which the government has yet to reach free trade deals with, local media reports said, citing the Trade and Industry Department.

Trade volume between Hong Kong and the RCEP member countries reached $962 billion in 2021, accounting for 70% of Hong Kong's total trade volume, the reports said.

RCEP is the world's largest trade bloc comprised of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

On top of tariff concessions, the agreement is designed to standardize rules on investment, intellectual property and e-commerce, among other trade practices.

It also aims to promote optimization of the supply chains within the free trade zone, which accounts for about 30 percent of the world's output, trade and population.

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