The agreement proposed in 2011 is the result of eight years of negotiations between Member States. According to RCEP documents, the agreement is expected to enter into force one and a half to two years after member states ratify the agreement. Myanmar is a founding member of the WTO and, at the regional level, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997, with ongoing component agreements on goods, services and investment. Trade with other ASEAN member countries accounts for about half of Myanmar`s total trade volume. As a result of its accession to ASEAN, Myanmar also participates in ASEAN preferential agreements with countries including Australia and New Zealand, China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Bilaterally, Myanmar has signed four memoranda of understanding on the establishment of bilateral joint trade commissions with neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Vietnam. It has also signed five border trade agreements with China, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and the Lao People`s Democratic Republic (Lao DVR). Myanmar`s average most-favoured-nation was 5.6 per cent in 2012 and 5.5 per cent in 2013. Imports from ASEAN and trading partners benefit from a different preferential tariff rate than other foreign imports. Prior to its abolition in 2012, the long-standing fixed exchange rate system and a non-automatic import licence were also barriers to market access. However, in order to increase Myanmar`s competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors since 2011, the government has implemented a number of measures, including improving support services, reducing export taxes, easing restrictions on the financial sector, etc. As a least developed country (LDC), Myanmar strives to use specific and differentiated rules (S&D) for treatment and technical assistance to least developed countries. It is also a beneficiary of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries, the Greater Mekong Subregion Programme (with Cambodia, PdR Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan Province, China), as well as a series of GSP programmes granted by Australia, Belarus, Japan, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, Switzerland and Turkey, etc.
In addition, under the Agreement on Electronic Commerce, Intellectual Property and Competition Policy, nations agreed that the transitional period for Myanmar should be increased from at least three years to a maximum of ten years. In addition, Myanmar has a transitional period of up to 15 years for the commercial sector. In the area of public procurement, Myanmar is exempt from contractual obligations and only has to comply with a transparency cooperation agreement between Member States. Myanmar State Councillor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who attended the virtual signing ceremony, said: “The pioneering trade pact will serve as a strong signal to the world that we are committed to preserving the credibility of the regional cooperation architecture, preserving business confidence and contributing to regional economic recovery.”