“I am delighted to say that after eight years of hard work, as of today, we have officially brought RCEP negotiations to a conclusion for signing,» said host country Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
“The conclusion of RCEP negotiation, the largest free trade agreement in the world, will send a strong message that affirms ASEAN’s leading role in supporting the multilateral trading system, creating a new trading structure in the region, enabling sustainable trade facilitation, revitalizing the supply chains disrupted by COVID-19 and assisting the post-pandemic recovery,” Phuc said.
The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time,; it is less comprehensive than the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that United States President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.
Apart from the 10 ASEAN members, it includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States.
Officials said the accord leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc.