November 17, 2020
Ten ASEAN nations and another five Asia Pacific countries have endorsed the world’s biggest trade deal in terms of GDP, but avoids environmental protection and labour rights.
After eight years of negotiations fifteen nations have entered into the world’s largest free-trade agreement that covers 2.2 billion people and a third of the world’s economy.
This year’s virtual summit was hosted by Vietnam where the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed on Sunday, 15th November by representatives of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, as part of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The pact lowers tariffs and opens up the service sector and sets common trade rules within the bloc. The agreement covers trade, services, investment, e-commerce, telecommunications and copyright, but does not cover environmental protection and labour rights.
It is hoped that the China-backed agreement will help rebuild the members economies that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
India withdrew from the negotiations last year where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said the proposed agreement was unacceptable to India in its current form as it did not accommodate New Delhi’s concerns and “core interests.”
The door remains open for India, as an original negotiating State, to rejoin the group.
Categories : World Focus