Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific nations of AustraliaBruneiCambodiaChinaIndonesiaJapanLaosMalaysiaMyanmarNew Zealand, the PhilippinesSingaporeSouth KoreaThailand, and Vietnam. 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. It was signed on 15 November 2020 at a virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam, and will take effect within two years, after it has been ratified by the member countries.

The trade pact, which includes a mix of high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries, was conceived at the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia, while its negotiations were formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. It was 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.

The RCEP is the first free trade agreement between China, Japan, and South Korea, three of the four largest economies in Asia. At the time it was signed, analysts predicted that it would help stimulate the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as “pull the economic centre of gravity back towards Asia,” and amplify the decline of the United States in economic and political affairs.


ASEAN leaders stated that India, which pulled out in November 2019, was welcome to return to the negotiations and join the bloc whenever it was ready.

External economic partners other than India, such as nations in Central Asia and remaining nations in the Asia-Pacific (South AsiaEast AsiaSoutheast Asia, and Oceania), can join RCEP 18 months after it comes into force.



The agreement is intended to reduce tariffs and red tape. It includes unified rules of origin throughout the bloc, which may facilitate international supply chains and trade within the region. It also prohibits certain tariffs. It does not focus on labor unionsenvironmental protection, or government subsidies.

The RCEP is not as comprehensive as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, another free trade agreement in the region that includes some of the same countries. The RCEP “does not establish unified standards on labour and the environment, or commit countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies.”

The tariffs schedule just for Japan is 1,334 pages long.


Members of the RCEP make up nearly a third of the world’s population and account for almost 30% of global gross domestic product. The new free trade bloc will be bigger than both the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and the European Union. The combined GDP of potential RCEP members surpassed the combined GDP of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in 2007. It was suggested that continued economic growth, particularly in China and Indonesia, could see total GDP in the original RCEP membership grow to over $100 trillion by 2050, roughly double the project size of TPP economies. On 23 January 2017, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum withdrawing the United States from the TPP, a move which was seen to improve the chances of success for RCEP.

According to a 2020 projection, the agreement is expected to increase the global economy by US$186 billion.

Source from: Wikipedia