Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP /ˈɑːrsɛp/ AR-sep) is a free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.[2] The 15 member countries account for about 30% of the world's population (2.2 billion people) and 30% of global GDP ($26.2 trillion) as of 2020, making it the biggest trade bloc in history.[3] Unifying the preexisting bilateral agreements between the 10-member ASEAN and five of its major trade partners, the RCEP was signed on 15 November 2020 at a virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam, and will take effect 60 days after it has been ratified by at least six ASEAN and three non-ASEAN signatories.[4][5][6]

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
TypeFree trade agreement
Signed15 November 2020; 10 months ago (2020-11-15)
LocationHanoi, Vietnam (Virtual host)
ConditionRatification by at least 6 of 10 ASEAN and 3 of 5 non-ASEAN signatories
DepositarySecretary General of the ASEAN[1]

The trade pact, which includes a mix of high-income,[note 1] middle-income,[note 2] and low-income countries,[note 3] was conceived at the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia, while its negotiations were formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.[7][8][9] It is expected to eliminate about 90% of the tariffs on imports between its signatories within 20 years of coming into force, and establish common rules for e-commerce, trade, and intellectual property.[10] The unified rules of origin will help facilitate international supply chains and reduce export costs throughout the bloc.

The RCEP is the first free trade agreement among China, Japan, and South Korea, three of the four largest economies in Asia.[10] Several analysts predicted that it would offer significant economic gains for signatory nations, as well as "pull the economic centre of gravity back towards Asia, with China poised to take the lead in writing trade rules for the region", leaving the U.S. behind in economic and political affairs.[note 4] Reactions from others were neutral or negative,[note 5] with some analysts saying that the economic gains from the trade deal would be modest.[27][28][29][30] The RCEP has been criticized for ignoring labor, human rights, and environmental sustainability issues.[8][31][32]