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  Brief Introduction to RCEP  

Introduction to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their five FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea). India, ASEAN's sixth FTA partner, opted out of the agreement in 2019.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
TypeFree Trade Agreement
EffectiveNot in force
Original signatories15
 Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, 
Japan,
 Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, 
New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, 
Thailand,
 Vietnam, South Korea

 

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. In 2017, the 16 prospective signatories (including India) accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of $49.5 trillion, about half of the world population and 39 percent of the world's GDP.
 
Membership

The 15 member countries of the RCEP
Blue: ASEAN
Purple: ASEAN Plus Three
Teal: ASEAN Plus Six (excluding India)

The arrangement is also open to any other external economic partners, such as nations in Central Asia and remaining nations in South Asia and Oceania.
 
Value

RCEP Population – 2012: IMF – World Economic Outlook Databases (October 2013)

 

RCEP GDP – 2012: IMF – World Economic Outlook Databases (October 2013)

 
RCEP potentially includes more than 3 billion people or 45% of the world's population, and a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion, accounting for about 40 percent of world trade. India's decision to not join RCEP reduced the impact of RCEP significantly. The combined GDP of potential RCEP members surpassed the combined GDP of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in 2007. Continued economic growth, particularly in China, India and Indonesia could see total GDP in RCEP grow to over $100 trillion by 2050, roughly double the project size of TPP economies.
GDP projections for potential RCEP member countries to 2050.

On January 23, 2017, United States President Donald Trump signed a memorandum that stated withdrawal of the country from the TPP, a move which was seen to improve the chances of success for RCEP.
 
2019 Media Statement
The 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (Rcep) Intersessional Ministerial Meeting, 2 March 2019, Siem Reap, Joint Media Statement:
1. The Ministers from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) attended the seventh RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held on 2 March 2019 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Meeting was opened by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and was chaired by H.E. Chutima Bunyapraphasara, Deputy Minister of Commerce, Acting Minister of Commerce of Thailand, reviewed the developments since the 2nd RCEP Summit on 14 November 2018 in Singapore, particularly the outcomes of the 2nd Special TNC Meeting held on 25–26 January 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the 25th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) Meeting and Related Meetings held on 19–28 February 2019 in Bali, Indonesia.
2. The Ministers recalled the Leaders’ determination to conclude a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial RCEP in 2019, and resolved to exert utmost effort to achieve this target. They commended the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) for the good progress made to date on both market access and text-based negotiations but at the same time recognized that more work still needs to be done to advance both aspects of the negotiations. The Ministers urged all RPCs to address specific sensitivities while working towards achieving commercially meaningful and balanced outcomes. The Ministers remained confident that with collective commitment and pragmatism, the chapters and annexes that would comprise the RCEP Agreement can be concluded soon. The Ministers reiterated that it is the collective responsibility of all RPCs to ensure progress by overcoming negotiation challenges and finding solutions to the remaining issues through constructive engagement.
3. To ensure that progress is made towards meeting the Leaders’ mandate for conclusion in 2019, the Ministers agreed to intensify engagement for the remainder of the year, including by convening more intersessional meetings. The Ministers agreed to meet next at the 8th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting to be held in August 2019 after the 27th RCEP TNC Meeting and Related Meetings.
 
History
2011

  • August 2011, East Asia Summit Economic Ministers welcomed a Chinese and Japanese joint 'Initiative on Speeding up the Establishment of EAFTA and CEPEA'.

  • During the 19th ASEAN Summit held 14–19 November 2011, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was introduced.

2012

  • The 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings were held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, 25 August – 1 September 2012.

  • Leaders at the 21st ASEAN Summit held 18–20 November 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia endorsed the framework of RCEP and announced the launch of their negotiations.

2013

  • The first round of RCEP negotiation was held on May 9–13, 2013 in Brunei

  • The second round of RCEP negotiation was held on September 23–27, 2013 in Brisbane, Australia.

2014

  • The third round of RCEP negotiation was held on January 20–24, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

  • The fourth round of RCEP negotiation was held on 31 March – 4 April 2014 in Nanning, China.

  • The fifth round of RCEP negotiation was held on June 21–27, 2014 in Singapore.

  • The sixth round of RCEP negotiation and related meetings was held on December 1–5, 2014 in New Delhi, India. The Indians held an outreach event with their business community to educate them on the goals of RCEP. The Japanese asked to set up a workshop on e-Commerce.

2015

  • The seventh round of RCEP negotiation was held on February 9–13, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. An expert group on electronic commerce met during this round. The Asian Trade Centre (based in Singapore) submitted a proposal regarding an e-Commerce chapter and gave a presentation on the paper.

  • The eighth round of RCEP negotiation was held on June 5–13, 2015 in Kyoto, Japan.

  • The ninth round of RCEP negotiation was held on August 3–7, 2015 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

  • The tenth round of RCEP negotiation was held on October 12–16, 2015 in Busan, South Korea. The meetings took place at BEXCO (Busan's Convention and Exhibition Centre). This round included the first region wide stakeholder meeting (organized by the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre) which involved an informal meeting between government officials and business representatives over lunch followed by an afternoon seminar focused on what RCEP can do to help business operate in the e-Commerce space.

2016

  • The eleventh round of RCEP negotiation was held on February 14–19, 2016 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

  • The twelfth round of negotiation of RCEP was held on April 17–29, 2016 in Perth, Australia.

  • The thirteenth round of RCEP negotiation was held on June 12–18, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand.

  • The fourteenth round of RCEP negotiation was held on August 15–18, 2016 in Vietnam.

  • The fifteenth round of RCEP negotiation was held on October 11–22, 2016 in Tianjin, China.

  • The sixteenth round of negotiations of RCEP was held on December 6–10, 2016 in Tangerang, Indonesia.

2017

  • The seventeenth round of negotiations of RCEP was held in Kobe, from February 27 to March 3, 2017 in Kobe, Japan.

  • The eighteenth round of RCEP negotiation was held on May 8–12, 2017 in Manila, Philippines.

  • The nineteenth round of RCEP negotiation was held on July 24–28, 2017 in Hyderabad, India.

  • The twentieth round of RCEP negotiation was held on October 17–28, 2017 in Incheon, Korea.

  • The first RCEP summit was held on Nov 14, 2017 in Manila, Philippines.

2018

  • The twenty-first round of RCEP negotiation was held on February 2–9, 2018 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

  • The twenty-second round of RCEP negotiation was held from April 28 to May 8, 2018 in Singapore.

  • The twenty-third round of RCEP negotiation was held on July 17–27, 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

  • August-October 2018, a series of ministerial meeting in Singapore and Auckland.

  • The twenty-fourth round of RCEP negotiation was held on October 18–27, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand.

  • November 14, 2018, a leaders' summit in Singapore is scheduled.

2019

  • March 2, 2019, a ministerial meeting of RCEP trade ministers held in Cambodia. The ministers agreed to intensify engagement for the remainder of the year (including by convening more inter-sessional meetings).

  • Senior officials will hold inter-sessional meetings starting May 24, 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand to iron out issues pertaining to the goods and services sector.

  • The twenty-sixth round was held on July 3, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

  • The twenty-seven round was held on Zhengzhou, China from July 22 to 31, 2019.

  • August 2–3, 2019, a ministerial meeting of RCEP trade ministers held in Beijing, China.

  • 3rd RCEP summit is held once again on October 31 to Nov 3, 2019 in Thailand with 35th ASEAN summit on same day.

  • India opts out of RCEP on November 4, 2019 in ASEAN+3 summit, citing, according to its view, the adverse impact the deal would have on its citizens. In light of India's departure, Japan and the PRC called on India to rejoin the partnership.


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