This Sunday 15 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Association (RCEP), a regional free trade agreement.
The RCEP is an agreement that covers trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, and the new rules for electronic commerce, intellectual property, public procurement, competition and small and medium businesses.
RCEP negotiations began in November 2012 between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN, includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and the partners of the free agreement. ASEAN trade (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea).
In November 2019, India indicated that it had various problems preventing it from joining the Treaty and has since indicated that it is not in a position to sign it.
Even without India, it will remain the largest free trade agreement in the world.
In addition to the tax relief for trade in products, the rules of this treaty in areas such as customs procedures, quarantine and technical standards will address non-tariff barriers by promoting greater transparency and cooperation among the countries of the region, while reaffirming the rights and existing obligations in the WTO.
The RCEP will also establish procedures for technical consultations on non-tariff measures that adversely affect trade, and will provide possible future work on specific sectoral initiatives to facilitate trade.
The agreement will establish high-quality rules for the provision of services between the parties, including obligations to provide access to foreign service providers (market access), to treat local and foreign suppliers equally (national treatment), and to treat foreign suppliers at least as well as suppliers from any other non-RCEP (most favored nation or MFN) country.
RCEP service providers will benefit from commitments to improve the transparency and predictability of national regulation affecting trade in services, improving the business environment throughout the region.