• The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement (FTA) that will create the world’s largest trading bloc.

It marks a significant achievement for China as it battles the U.S. for influence and economic supremacy in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • The 15 Asia-Pacific nations poised to sign RCEP in 2020 account for nearly a third of the world’s gross domestic product.


  • China is the key member of RCEP, which will give it the upper hand in influencing the rules of trade in Asia-Pacific.
  • The TPP became the much less influential CPTPP after President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2017.


Backed by China, RCEP was envisaged as a way to bolster trading ties among nations across Asia-Pacific and promote trade and economic growth in the region.


Initially, it will include the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five Asia-Pacific countries with whom Asean has existing FTAs:

  • Australia
  • China
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea

India had also planned to join the deal but pulled out in November 2019.

  • RCEP will lower or eliminate tariffs on a broad range of goods and services .
  • It establishes rules on such things as investment, competition, and intellectual property, including digital copyright.
  • Unlike the CPTPP, RCEP does not include provisions on labor and environmental standards.