World’s largest trade deal signed excluding India and USA

In the absence of India and the US, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed virtually on Sunday in the annual summit of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In the online ceremony, leaders of RCEP countries took turns, standing behind their trade ministers who signed copies of the agreement and later showed the agreement to the cameras.

Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, “RCEP will soon be ratified by signatory countries and take effect, contributing to the post-COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.”


RECP will account for 30 percent of the global economy, 30 percent of the global population, and reach 2.2 billion consumers, according to Vietnam.

Head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department at Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, Luong Hoang Thai said, “RCEP will help reduce or remove tariffs on industrial and agricultural products and set out rules for data transmission.”

ASEAN members include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. In addition to the 10 ASEAN nations, the accord includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
RCEP, officials said that they will leave the door open for the return of India, who drop out of the deal after the failure of negotiation with the rest of the RCEP countries.

Officials said ‘the accord leaves the door open for India,’ which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to re-join the bloc.

Malaysia’s Trade Minister, Mohamed Azmin Ali said, “After eight years of negotiating with blood, sweat, and tears, we have finally come to the moment where we will seal the RCEP Agreement,” in a statement ahead of the ceremony. He further added, “The deal sends a signal that RCEP countries have chosen to open our markets instead of resorting to protectionist measures during this difficult time.”

The former US President Donald Trump was pulled out of RCEP, after taking office. This resulted in the US is absent from RCEP and the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

This leaves the world’s biggest economy out of two trade groups that span the fastest-growing region on earth.

Ahead of Sunday’s RCEP summit meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that he would firmly convey his government’s support for broadening a free and fair economic zone, including a possibility of India’s future return to the deal and hope to gain support from the other countries.

Research director at the Perth US Asia Centre, Jeffrey Wilson, in a report for the Asia Society, said, “But it does set rules for trade that will facilitate investment and other business within the region.” He wrote, “RCEP, therefore, is a much-needed platform for the Indo-Pacific’s post-COVID-19 recovery,”

The pact will take effect once enough participating countries ratify the agreement domestically within the next two years.