Earlier this week, Australia and 14 other countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The agreement, which includes 30 per cent of the global economy, marks the largest trade deal in history.
At the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit last year, the ASEAN country delegation heads accepted the terms of the agreement that took eight years to negotiate, but they did not formally bring it into effect until just this week. For Arowana and our vocational and professional education and training (VPET) business, EdventureCo, the RCEP validates our expansion into and across the ASEAN region. EdventureCo’s ICT training business, DDLS, recently opened a campus in Manila, and is focussed on continuing to grow in the Philippines and South East Asia over the next decade.
The Arowana Impact Capital team has also recently focussed on business opportunities in the ASEAN region.
The RCEP will bolster EdventureCo’s growth trajectory by supporting its current and future investments in ASEAN’s 10 member states―Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam―which have some of the fastest-growing middle classes in the world who place a premium on the value of education.
While the partnership does not give Australian businesses access to new markets, it does remove non-tariff barriers to trade by consolidating existing multilateral and bilateral trade agreements into a uniform set of trade rules. These rules make it less risky for companies like ours to participate in the abovementioned emerging markets.
According to the Australian Government, the main benefits for the country will be:
“Greater openness within our region, as well as the greater integration of value chains and more common rules of origin―which this deal delivers―will make it easier for Australian businesses and investors to operate throughout our region, helping Australia to continue to grow our exports,” said Trade Minister Simon Birmingham.
“There are particular gains for Australian providers within the financial services sector, education, health, engineering, and other professional services, who can become better integrated within the region and have more access within RCEP countries.”