Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement started on 1 January 2022. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its five trade partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea), which came into force on 1 January 2022. India, which has also taken part in the talks, has not entered into the agreement for the time being, but the door for the country is still open.
The agreement provides for the elimination of duties on approx. 90% of product groups within 20 years. It also introduces common regulations in areas such as competition, services, technical standards, e-commerce, intellectual property and investment. In principle, the RCEP is to create a framework for further negotiations as the importance of individual issues for mutual trade increases.
The new agreement creates new opportunities for the Western world, mainly the European Union and North America. Time will tell whether Western countries will use them. Certainly, the new agreement strengthens trade relations in the Pacific. This new situation should encourage the EU to intensify talks on trade agreements with ASEAN countries, especially with those countries that do not have any signed agreements. When it comes to the United States, the situation is a little bit different, as the country has been strengthening its position in the Pacific for many years, not only in terms of military but also trade. It is true that, from the military point of view, the situation has not changed, but from the perspective of trade relations, it has. The United States has completely given up the field to China in this region.