What is the RCEP trade deal?

Published June 23, 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a conference. — AP/File
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a conference. — AP/File

BANGKOK: Led by China — and excluding the US — the sprawling Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) is poised to become the biggest glo­bal trade deal, linking half the world’s people and marking Beijing’s dominance in Asian trade.

The long-awaited deal is expected to be discussed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) leaders meeting this weekend in Bangkok.

Launched in 2012, RCEP is a trade pact between the 10-member Asean bloc, along with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. It links around 3.4 billion people and when signed will be the world’s biggest free trade pact. It is also expected to cover about a quarter of the world’s exports.

Its aim is to break down trade barriers and promote investment to help emerging economies.

It mainly matters because it doesn’t include the US — and is being led by Beijing. Observers say it will cement China’s domination over its backyard, where it faces little competition from US afterTrump pulled out of the TPP which was on track to be the world’s biggest trade pact, until Washington pulled the rug out from under it, saying it funnelled off US jobs.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019

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