China has just joined forces with more than a dozen countries across the Asia Pacific region to sign a huge free trade deal nearly a decade in the making.
China signs huge Asia Pacific trade deal with 14 countries
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership spans 15 countries and 2.2 billion people, or nearly 30% of the world’s population, according to a joint statement released by the nations on Sunday, when the deal was signed. Their combined GDP totals roughly $26 trillion and they account for nearly 28% of global trade based on 2019 data.
The deal includes several of the region’s heaviest economic hitters aside from China, including Japan and South Korea. New Zealand and Australia are also partners, as are Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia.
The trade agreement was first proposed in 2012 as a way to create one of the world’s largest free-trade zones.
It’s tough to gauge the immediate economic significance of the deal. The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — a group of 10 countries that signed the agreement — said that it would eliminate tariffs and quotas on 65% of the goods that are traded in the region.