This report is an extension to an earlier study on tariffs released by the APEC Policy Support Unit in 2019, as part of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) Work Programme on Tariffs. The earlier study, among other things, examined market access commitments within one of the possible FTAAP pathways, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on 15 November 2020, another possible FTAAP pathway, motivated the realization of this study. The report focuses exclusively on analyzing one aspect of RCEP, i.e., tariff liberalization schedules, and compares the extent of tariff liberalization within the RCEP and CPTPP.
The findings show that, from the tariff liberalization perspective, RCEP is an important step forward to realize the creation of the much larger FTAAP. Both the CPTPP and RCEP are important pathways for this goal because they strengthen economic links among their members (e.g., increased market access and greater economic integration across the region) and represent important instruments to build up trust among economies.