- RCEP is expected to be signed by the heads of the 15 member nations when they meet via teleconference on November 15
- Ministers from China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and ASEAN met on November 11 via teleconference for final-stage talks
- India, which withdrew from the talks late last year, will be under a special arrangement that will allow it to join the trade bloc later on
- If passed, RCEP becomes Asia-Pacific’s largest trading bloc, representing about a third of the world’s GDP and population even without India
The much-awaited Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is expected to be signed by the heads of state of the pact’s 15 member nations when they meet via teleconference on November 15.
On November 11, ministers from China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met via teleconference for final-stage talks on the mega regional trade deal.
Missing from the negotiations is India, which withdrew from the talks late last year over concerns about a flood of Chinese goods hurting small businesses in India, and the impact of free agricultural trade on the country’s millions of small-scale farmers.
However, the remaining 15 RCEP members are making a special arrangement to leave the door open for India’s possible return in the future. The RCEP will be closed off from other countries for a certain amount of time after it takes effect, but this policy will not cover India.
If passed, the RCEP will become the Asia-Pacific’s largest trading bloc, representing about a third of the world’s gross domestic product and population even without India.
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia with the aim of boosting economic cooperation and market access among the 10 ASEAN countries and their six dialogue partners China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, and New Zealand.
The ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.