After almost a decade of negotiations, the RCEP was finally signed on 15 November 2020 by 10 ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. India was originally party to the RCEP negotiations, but it left the deal in 2019 due to concerns over the protection of its national interests and local industries.
The RCEP is the largest regional free trade agreement (FTA) outside the WTO. Its member states account for approximately 30% of the world’s gross domestic product (USD 26.3 trillion) and 30% of the world’s population (2.3 billion). Key developments that are expected from the implementation of the RCEP include further liberalization of trade, removal of non-tariff trade barriers and increased trade facilitation, removal of barrier to services sectors, as well as overall enhanced business environment through regulations relating to intellectual property protection, government procurement practices, e-commerce and more.