Signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by 15 Asia-Pacific Countries
On 15 November 2020, the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ("ASEAN") – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – in conjunction with Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand, signed the world's largest free trade agreement to date, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ("RCEP") Agreement.
Representing the culmination of eight years of negotiations, the RCEP builds on existing bilateral FTAs among the 15 RCEP Participating Countries ("RPCs"). Together, the RPCs account for about 30% of global gross domestic product and close to a third of the world's population. It signals the RPCs' strong commitment to maintaining open and connected supply chains; broadens individual RPCs' economic linkages and connectivity with the region; and gives them preferential access to the region's growing markets.
We provide an overview of the features of the RCEP below, which improves on the existing ASEAN Plus One agreement in four key areas:
1. comprehensive trade facilitation measures;
2. improved market access for Trade in Services;
3. enhanced investment rules and disciplines; and
4. expanded scope and commitments.