Go8 Submission on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
The Group of Eight (Go8) thanks DFAT for the opportunity to comment on the negotiation of the RCEP. Please note that this submission represents the views of the Go8 network. Member universities may also make their own, more detailed submissions.
The Go8 represent Australia’s eight leading research-intensive universities. As a collective, we:
- Are consistently the highest ranked Australian universities across the major international ranking systems (Academic Ranking of World Universities; the Times Higher Education World University Rankings; and the QS World University Rankings);
- Educate one in three international students who choose to study higher education onshore in Australia;
- Account for more than half of all Australian papers with international collaboration; and
- Attract industry research funding that is twice that of the rest of the sector combined.
Much of this success rests on the Go8’s capacity to engage extensively with international partners, both in our region and around the globe.
International engagement builds Australia’s reputation for high quality research and education; connects Australia’s best minds with those from around the world; helps our students to develop the intercultural skills necessary to the 21st century’s global workforce; and builds soft power capacity by demonstrating our commitment to being an engaged and active regional partner.
This will only become more important to our national success and prosperity as the focus of the world continues to shift towards the Indo-Pacific region. Australia has built strong and longstanding relationships with partners across the region, from India to Canada to Japan and Korea, with ASEAN and APEC. Some of these relationships are more developed than others, some are focused on capacity building. But they all help to contribute to the world in which we live.
The RCEP connects Australia to key partners within the region, representing 10 of our top 15 trading partners: the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and the five other ASEAN FTA partners, excepting Australia – i.e.., China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand. In addition to the trade relationship, many of these nations are also key strategic partners within a region of growing global strategic importance.
Government level agreements provide a strong signal of Australia’s willingness to engage. For this reason, the Go8 strongly endorses the development of a RCEP, as we did the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Indonesia in March this year, and the progression of the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement in November 2018.
More specific issues that would help to facilitate deeper engagement in the higher education and research sectors include:
- Streamlining visa processes to facilitate the mobility of the best and brightest minds in the region to study and research in Australia. For example, the 2017 Go8 report exploring options to increase two-way mobility of PhD students between India and Australia recommended the development of a special class of visa to enable the importation of high-quality researchers and PhD graduates.
- Addressing regulatory issues around mutual recognition of qualifications and promoting opportunities for joint qualification offerings. Such programmes can allow students with reduced financial capacity to access an Australian educational experience for a shorter duration than is required for a full degree, while strengthening academic and administrative ties between countries.
The Go8 looks forward to further engagement with DFAT as the RCEP negotiations continue.
If you wish to explore any of these issues in more detail, please contact the Go8 office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (02 6175 0700).
 Go8 Facts of Distinction, https://go8.edu.au/go8-publication-facts-of-distinction-2019