The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement among 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The negotiations for the agreement began in 2012 and were concluded in November 2020. The RCEP member countries account for nearly one-third of the world’s population and approximately 29% of the world’s GDP.
The participating countries of RCEP are the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – and five of ASEAN’s free trade partners – China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. India was also part of the negotiations initially but withdrew in 2019.
The RCEP aims to eliminate tariffs on goods and services, improve market access, and establish common rules and standards for trade among its member countries. It is expected to create a more integrated and seamless trade environment in the Asia-Pacific region, boosting economic growth and promoting regional development.
The agreement covers a broad range of areas, including trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual property, e-commerce, and small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes provisions for dispute resolution and cooperation in areas such as customs procedures and trade facilitation.
Critics of the RCEP argue that it could lead to job losses and lower labor and environmental standards. However, proponents of the agreement argue that it will help boost economic growth, increase trade, and create new business opportunities in the region.
Overall, the RCEP represents a significant milestone in the Asia-Pacific region’s economic integration and marks a step towards a more interconnected and prosperous future for the participating countries.