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China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries have signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade agreement, on November 15.
The RCEP covers a market of 2.2 billion people, accounting for about 30% of the global population, and represents US$26.2 trillion of global output. The agreement is larger than what’s covered under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the European Union.
The ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the agreement with the region’s top trading partners; China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The ASEAN is comprised of Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
The RCEP is expected to create unified rules of origin across much of the region to replace a mixed array of bilateral trade deals. The agreement is not expected to lead to large overall reductions in tariffs, however, it aims to combine existing trade deals and bring further integration in Asia as an economic bloc.