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Asia-Pacific nations sign RCEP agreement, launch world’s biggest free trade bloc

2020-11-16 12:48:56 Xinhuanet.com

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement was signed among its 15 participating nations on Sunday, launching the world’s biggest free trade bloc.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement was signed among its 15 participating countries on Sunday, launching the world's biggest free trade bloc.

Participating countries include the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian

Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The RCEP Agreement "is an unprecedented mega regional trading arrangement that comprises a diverse mix of developed, developing and least developed economies of the region," leaders of the participating countries said in a joint statement at the fourth RCEP summit earlier Sunday prior to the signing ceremony.

"It would cover a market of 2.2 billion people, or almost 30 percent of the world's population, with a combined GDP of 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars or about 30 percent of global GDP, and accounts for nearly 28 percent of global trade (based on 2019 figures)."

The RCEP Agreement is critical to the region's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will play an important role in building the region's resilience through inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery process, said the leaders.

It "demonstrates our strong commitment to supporting economic recovery, inclusive development, job creation and strengthening regional supply chains as well as our support for an open, inclusive, rules-based trade and investment arrangement, " said the leaders.

The RCEP "represents an important step forward towards an ideal framework of global trade and investment rules," they said.

The signing of the deal is "a victory of multilateralism and free trade," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Sunday as he attended the fourth RCEP Summit in Beijing, held via video link.

"The signing of the RCEP is not only a landmark achievement of East Asian regional cooperation, but also a victory of multilateralism and free trade," Li said.

The global and regional economies are facing huge obstacles and challenges caused by not only COVID-19 but also the decreased global trade, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the fourth RCEP summit held prior to the signing ceremony.

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