What happens now the RCEP trade deal has been signed?

Reuters reports that 15 Asia-Pacific economies have signed “what could become the world’s largest free trade agreement on Sunday [15 November 2020], covering nearly a third of the global population and about 30% of its global gross domestic product” – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) agreement.

  • The signatories are China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • India was involved in early discussions but opted out in 2019. India can still join the RCEP, however. Anyone can join RCEP 18 months after it comes into force but India, as one of the original negotiating partners, can join at any time once the deal comes into effect.
  • The deal must be ratified by at least six ASEAN countries and three non-ASEAN signatory countries before it can come into effect.
  • The RCEP marks the first time China, Japan and South Korea have been brought together under a single trade agreement. 

Read the full Reuters “Explainer”.