On November 15, 2020, 15 Asia-Pacific nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free-trade agreement (FTA). It includes China, 10 Asean nations and four regional trade partners: Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. RCEP covers almost one-third of the world’s population and about one-third of its gross domestic product.
RCEP will progressively lower tariffs and aims to counter protectionism, increase investment and allow more free movement of goods.
RCEP would also represent the first ever FTA between China, Japan and South Korea – Asia’s largest, second-largest and fourth-largest economies.
Earlier RCEP negotiations included India but New Delhi withdrew in 2019 due to concerns about competition with manufactured goods from China and agricultural products from Australia.