After almost a decade of negotiations, the RCEP was finally signed on 15 November 2020 by 10 ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. India was originally party to the RCEP negotiations, but it left the deal in 2019 due to concerns over the protection of its national interests and local industries.
The RCEP is the largest regional free trade agreement (FTA) outside the WTO. Its member states account for approximately 30% of the world’s gross domestic product (USD 26.3 trillion) and 30% of the world’s population (2.3 billion). Key developments that are expected from the implementation of the RCEP include further liberalization of trade, removal of non-tariff trade barriers and increased trade facilitation, removal of barrier to services sectors, as well as overall enhanced business environment through regulations relating to intellectual property protection, government procurement practices, e-commerce and more.
Jon Cowley is a member of Baker McKenzie's Hong Kong office. Jon's practice focuses on Asia-Pacific customs and trade matters, including controversy and audit support, duty and indirect tax planning, supply chain structuring and trade compliance advice. Jon returned to Baker McKenzie after spending five years as Assistant General Counsel for Customs and International Trade at a major consumer product company, where he advised the business on trade and customs issues globally. He previously was a member of Baker McKenzie’s International Trade Controversies and Planning practice in Hong Kong, where he assisted multinational companies with China customs, export control, encryption, indirect tax and cross-border regulatory matters. Earlier in his career, Jon was a trade advisor with consulting firms in Silicon Valley and Chicago.
Riza F. Buditomo is a partner in Hadiputranto, Hadinoto & Partners' Tax & Trade Group in Jakarta. He focuses on corporate commercial and tax, and trade matters including export/import, customs, supply chain, food industry, direct-selling, anti-dumping, and corporate commercial work.
Junko Suetomi is a partner in Baker McKenzie Tokyo. Prior to joining the Firm, she worked in the WTO Dispute Settlement Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Economic Bureau. She has also worked for a global law firm in Washington, DC and New York, and served as a court-appointed defense attorney in many criminal cases.
Junko is recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers Global and Chambers Asia Pacific, Best Lawyers, Who's Who Legal and other legal directories. She is the Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Tokyo Bar Association and a part-time lecturer at Waseda University.
She was a legal advisor to the Ministry of Finance Japan's Office of Trade Remedy Affairs, Tariff Policy and Legal Division, Customs and Tariff Bureau from 2016 to 2019. She has served as an expert member of the Ministry's Council on Customs, Tariff, Foreign Exchange and Other Transactions since 13 March 2019.