On Sunday, 15 Asian and Pacific countries signed an important trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which aims to create a huge free trade area between the ten ASEAN countries. According to analysts, this is the world’s largest trade agreement in terms of gross domestic product (GDP).

The trade agreement was signed at the end of the virtual summit of ASEAN, the Asian confederation of nations. The ten ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei) and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand sign the Free Trade Agreement.

‘I am pleased that after eight years of complex negotiations we can officially end the RCEP negotiations today,’ said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuân Phúc, whose country holds the rotating presidency of ASEAN.

This agreement, the idea of which dates back to 2012, is seen as the Chinese response to an American initiative that has now been abandoned.

The RCEP, whose members account for 30 percent of global GDP, will “be an important step in the liberalisation of trade and investment” in the region, said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia and the Pacific Ocean of IHS Markit.

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