Asian trade megadeal RCEP signed after years of talks

Asian trade megadeal RCEP signed after years of talks”

Asia-Pacific countries including Japan, China and members of ASEAN on Sunday signed a regional trade deal covering almost a third of the global economy.

After eight years of wrangling over the details, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP was finally signed virtually on Sunday.

Earlier this week, when asked if India will join RECP, Secretary East in Ministry of External Affairs Riva Ganguly Das said, "Our position is well known, as far as India is concerned we did not join RCEP as it does not address the outstanding issues and concerns of India, however, we remain committed to deepening our trade relations with ASEAN".

"RCEP will soon be ratified by signatory countries and take effect, contributing to the post-COVID pandemic economic recovery", said Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam, which hosted the ceremony as ASEAN chair, Al Jazeera reported.

The pact commits signatories to maintain open markets for goods, services and investments, harmonization of rules of origin among all participants, and strengthening trade facilitation measures.

South Korea already has free trade pacts with 13 of the 14 RCEP partner economies.

"We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the agencies involved in the negotiations for helping clear this historic free trade deal with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Cabinet Committee on Trade and Related Matters", the trade chief added.

It will be Japan's first trade deal with both China, its largest trading partner, and South Korea as negotiations for a trilateral pact have yet to be concluded.

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Analysts are skeptical Biden will push hard to rejoin the trans-Pacific trade pact or to roll back numerous United States trade sanctions imposed on China by the Trump administration given widespread frustration with Beijing's trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft. So, having won over disaffected rust-belt voters in MI and western Pennsylvania in the November 3 election, Biden is "not going to squander that by going back into TPP", Michael Jonathan Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a web seminar.

It is likely that a new USA administration under President-elect Joe Biden will focus more on Southeast Asia, analysts say, although it remains unclear whether he would want to rejoin the CPTPP. Once in place, RCEP will enable faster growth in the region, which now account for 28.2% of global GDP-amounting to USD23.9 trillion; 27.8% of the world's trade valued at USD10.5 trillion; 23.6% of global inward FDI2 and 33.5% of global outward FDI3; and 29.7% of the world's total population.

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

Fifteen countries have formed the world's largest trading bloc, covering almost a third of the global economy. The EU and Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, the revised version of the deal Trump rejected, also are smaller.

India, which was initially involved in the negotiations, withdrew as it was reluctant to open up its economy and expose its farmers and manufacturers to more competition.

India's change of heart was a blow for New Zealand, which stood to make significant gains through access to its protected market, particularly for exports such as dairy.

Trade and investment flows within Asia have vastly expanded over the past decade, a trend that has accelerated amid feuding between the U.S. and China, which have imposed billions of dollars' worth of punitive tariffs on each other's exports.

Lopez said, "RCEP will bring job opportunities for the Filipinos in the country as it facilitates inclusive and open regional economic policies, especially for MSMEs, who can take advantage of the increasing globalization and creation of new supply chain linkages".

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