Fifteen countries sign world’s biggest trade bloc [Pic: Reuters/Kham]
Nov, 16th 2020 – 15 countries have converged to form the largest trading block. Among them are 10 Southeast Asian countries, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, excludes the United States, which withdrew from a rival Asia-Pacific trade pact in 2017. Negotiations over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) began in 2012 and the deal was signed on Sunday, the 15th of November 2020.
Host country Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, “I am delighted to say that after eight years of hard work, as of today, we have officially brought RCEP negotiations to a conclusion for signing.” He added that, “I am delighted to say that after eight years of hard work, as of today, we have officially brought RCEP negotiations to a conclusion for signing.”
This deal has a powerful symbolic outcome showing that even after Trump launched his “America First” policy of forging trade deals with individual countries, Asia remains committed to multi-nation efforts towards a freer trade that is seen as a formula for future success.
According to a report, this is also a coup for China, as the biggest market with more than 1.3 billion people, Giving Beijing a platform to cast itself as a “champion of globalization and multilateral cooperation” and give it greater influence over rules governing Gareth leather, Regional trade and Senior Asian economist for Capital Economics.
Quoting Li Keqiang, China’s official Xinhua News Agency praise the agreement as a victory against protectionism. Li said, “The signing of the RCEP is not only a landmark achievement of East Asian regional cooperation, but also a victory of multilateralism and free trade.”
Now that Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent has been declared president elect, the region is watching to see how US policy on trade and other issues will evolve. However, it is not expected to go as far as the European Union in integrating member economies but builds on existing free trade arrangements.