Courtesy: Tron Le
區域全面經濟夥伴關係和 ESG 法規
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership & ESG Regulations
RCEP 不僅有利於公共部門，也有利於私營企業。該夥伴關係提供了許多有助於降低貿易壁壘並確保改善該地區生產的商品和服務的市場准入的計劃。有趣的是，這些解決方案的受益者不僅是大型跨國公司 (MNC)，而且是任何規模的公司，甚至包括微型企業，它們是該地區最受歡迎的商業參與者類型。因此，RCEP 是關於公平的區域經濟政策，使東盟成員國和合作夥伴平等受益。
RCEP & ESG
RCEP 包含允許亞太地區國家鼓勵貿易參與、技術合作和標準化原產地規則的結構，但這還不是全部。夥伴關係的關鍵領域之一是能源轉型。鼓勵發達成員協調替代燃料來源的多邊投資，從而同時促進該地區所有國家的綠色能源轉型。綠色能源對東盟來說意義重大，因為該地區受到氣候變化的諸多影響。為了有效地實現這一點，成員國必須標準化環境、社會和治理法規。缺乏共同標準往往會阻礙私人投資者將大量資本用於綠色投資。這就是為什麼 RCEP 部長級會議和加入委員會會議將 ESG 指令的系統化納入其議程。
在 RCEP 的背景下，擁有一套統一的 ESG 法律尤為重要，因為總體而言，與富裕的 FDI 合作夥伴相比，東盟的標準相當落後。許多外國投資者需要按照全球最高標準分配資金。此外，提出應對氣候變化的共同機制將對東盟國家大有裨益。
該夥伴關係為促進環境友好型商業政策提供了機會，這將對社會增長產生積極影響。來自較富裕國家的投資者需要投資於仍在發展中的國家。然而，如果投資者在東南亞發展中地區開展新業務時尊重 ESG 原則，擁有這一機會並製定嚴格的法規將使綠色投資者能夠創建基於 ESG 原則的業務，並為發展中國家的人民。像世界銀行這樣的多邊金融機構經常通過嚴格的規定來強制變革，RCEP 也可以這樣做。在國外的推動下，東盟國家可以更快地實施 ESG 法規。或許，一旦東盟成員國採用更高的 ESG 基準，它們將吸引更多資金。
總而言之，RCEP是一項有價值的舉措，它降低了發達國家投資者在東盟地區配置資源的障礙。 然而，隨著 ESG 法規對世界各地的企業變得越來越重要，東盟成員國需要提高標準以吸引更多資金。 在整個 RCEP 中批准一套標準的 ESG 法律將使各國能夠真正對抗經濟不平等和氣候變化的影響。
What Is RCEP, and How Does It Facilitate Regional Trade?
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement (FTA) between ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five partners, including Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The primary goals of the framework are strengthening economic linkage, enhancing trade and investment, as well as minimizing the development gap among participating nations.
RCEP is not only beneficial for the public sector but also for private businesses. The partnership provides many schemes that facilitate lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for goods and services produced in the region. Interestingly, beneficiaries of these solutions are not only large multinational corporations (MNCs) but companies of any size, even including micro-enterprises, which are the most popular type of business actors in the region. Thus, RCEP is all about fair regional economic policies that benefit ASEAN members and partners equally.
RCEP & ESG
RCEP incorporates structures that allow countries in the Asia Pacific region to encourage trade engagement, technical cooperation, and standardize rules of origin, but that is not all. One of the critical areas of the partnership is energy transition. Developed members are encouraged to coordinate multilateral investments in alternative fuel sources and therefore facilitate the green energy transition in all countries of the region simultaneously. Green energy is significant for the ASEAN as the area suffers from many consequences of climate change. For that to happen efficiently, member states must standardize the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) regulations. The lack of common standards often discourages private investors from allocating significant capital toward green investments. That is why the RCEP Ministerial and Joint Committee meetings embody the systematization of ESG directives into their agenda.
In the context of RCEP, having a unified set of ESG laws is especially important considering that, in general, ASEAN is quite behind with its standards compared to the wealthy FDI partners. Many foreign investors need their funding to be distributed according to the highest worldwide standards. In addition, coming up with a common mechanism to battle climate change would greatly benefit the ASEAN states.
The partnership provides an opportunity to foster environmentally-friendly business policies, which would positively impact social growth. Investors from wealthier countries need to invest in nations that are still developing. However, if investors respect the ESG principles while conducting their new ventures in developing parts of Southeastern Asia, then having this opportunity and firm regulations in place would allow green investors to create businesses that are based on the ESG principles and provide a myriad of social benefits to the people in developing countries. Multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank often enforce change with their strict regulations, and RCEP could do the same. With this push from abroad, ASEAN countries could implement ESG regulations much faster. Perhaps, once ASEAN members adopt the higher ESG benchmarks, they will attract even more funding.
To conclude, RCEP is a valuable initiative that lowers the barriers for investors from developed countries to allocate their resources in the ASEAN region. However, as ESG regulations become more crucial for businesses around the world, ASEAN members need to improve their standards in order to attract even more funds. Approving a standard set of ESG laws among the whole RCEP will allow nations to truly fight economic inequality and the effect of climate change.
ASEAN Secretariat. (2019). Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). https://rcepsec.org/about/
Drysdale, P., & Armstrong, S. (2021). RCEP: A strategic opportunity for multilateralism. China Economic Journal, 14(2), 128–143. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538963.2021.1937092
Shastry, V. (2021). FDI in the ASEAN States: The Engine that Roared. Asia Policy, 16(4), 37–48.
Zeng, H.-J. (2021). Sustainable Urban Development is the Key to the Continual Success of Southeast Asia Region. https://blogs.harvard.edu/zenghanjun/?m=202105
About the Author
Patryk Chojecki is a researcher and writer at Taiwan Architecture and Building Center. He is currently a graduate student at National Chengchi University in Taipei. He is passionate about all topics related to international politics, environment, and international political economy.
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