China, 14 Asia-Pacific Countries Reach Landmark Free Trade Agreement | Business

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Leaders of China and 14 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have signed one of the largest free trade agreements in history, covering 2.2 billion people and 30% of global economic output.The Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed Sunday by video link after eight years of negotiations.

Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea signed the agreement, along with members of the Association of 10 Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The agreement sets out the terms of trade in goods and services, cross-border investments and new rules for increasingly important areas such as e-commerce and intellectual property. The effect on trade in finished goods between Asian countries will be particularly marked, analysts said.

In a joint statement, country leaders said the trade deal would be a crucial part of their plans to recover from the pandemic, which has forced countries around the world to lock down their economies.

The leaders’ statement said the agreement “demonstrates our strong commitment to supporting economic recovery, inclusive development, job creation and strengthening regional supply chains, as well as our support for a trade agreement and open, inclusive and rules-based investment ”.

The combined GDP of the signatories was $ 26.2 billion (£ 20 billion) in 2019, or around 30% of global GDP. The agreement will cover almost 28% of world trade.

It would have covered an additional 1.4 billion people if India had not withdrawn from negotiations last year because it would not be able to protect the domestic industry as well as its agricultural sector.

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