Asian leaders sign world’s largest trade deal
November 15, 2020 - Asian leaders are due to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mammoth trade deal that covers nearly a third of the world’s people and accounts for 29% of global gross domestic product.
RCEP includes the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
RCEP will create unified rules of origin across much of the region to replace a mishmash of bilateral trade deals, bringing Asia a step closer to being a coherent trading zone like the EU or North America.
And for China, the biggest economy involved in the trade negotiations, RCEP would enable China to tighten regional trade links, helping buffer Beijing against Washington while fostering greater economic interdependence with regional powers, which include Australia, South Korea and Japan.
Analysts said the deal marked a big step towards economic integration and would further diminish U.S. influence in the region after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another large regional trading pact.
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