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15 countries have formed the world’s largest trading bloc

RCEP, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is an economic cooperation block composed of 10 countries from Southeast Asia, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand and represents 29% of the world’s gross domestic product.

What is the RCEP, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership?

The pact has been seen by many commentators as a further extension of Chinese influence over the region, following the 2017 American withdrawal by the now-former US President Donald Trump, who scrambled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) shortly after being been elected.

Negotiations on the RCEP went on for eight years, and the pact was finally signed on Sunday, during a virtual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hosted by Vietnam.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hailed the pact as a glimmer of light during this year of global turmoil caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The pact will eliminate a series of import tariffs for the next 20 years and includes a series of agreements on telecommunications, intellectual property, financial services, e-commerce, and professional services.

Countries participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

South Korea
New Zealand

image source: wikipedia

Source: ASEAN

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