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Jakarta Post

[INSIGHT] ASEAN and newly signed RCEP: Roles and gains

  • Yose Rizal Damuri

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, November 17, 2020   /  10:27 pm
[INSIGHT] ASEAN and newly signed RCEP: Roles and gains Done deal: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right) claps hands next to other country signatories during the signing ceremony for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact at the ASEAN summit held online in Hanoi on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (AFP/Nhac Nguyen)

After eight years of negotiation, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came into realization last weekend. Covering a population of more than 3 billion people who contribute around 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 25 percent of global trade, the agreement can easily be dubbed as the world’s largest trade agreement. This scale, however, was also the source of difficulties in negotiations, which dragged the process five years longer than initially expected. In the earlier phase of negotiations, completing the partnership seemed to be an improbable task. From the technical point of view, the RCEP started from the existing five ASEAN+1 free trade agreements (FTAs) that were very different from each other. Even on tariff elimination negotiating parties needed to find common ground from at least 50 schedules of tariff elimination, if they...