Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six Asia-Pacific states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand). It is reported that a broad agreement is likely to be reached in November 2018.
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The free trade agreement is scheduled and expected to be signed in November 2018 during the ASEAN Summit and Related Summit in Singapore, after the first RCEP summit was held on 14 November 2017 in Manila, Philippines. RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.
In 2017, prospective RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of $49.5 trillion, approximately 39 percent of the world’s GDP, with the combined GDPs of China and India making up more than half that amount.
RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy. According to estimates by PwC, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of RCEP member states is likely to amount to nearly $250 trillion by 2050, or a quarter of a quadrillion dollars, with the combined GDPs of China and India making up more than 75% of the amount. RCEP’s share of the global economy could account for half of the estimated $0.5 quadrillion global (GDP, PPP) by 2050.
The arrangement is also open to any other external economic partners, such as nations in Central Asia and remaining nations in South Asia and Oceania.
The RCEP 16 countries
- Ten members of ASEAN
- Three additional members of ASEAN Plus Three
- Three additional members of ASEAN Plus Six
Basic indicators of the RCEP 16 countries
(millions of US$)
|GDP per cap.
(millions of Int$)
|GDP per cap.
Commonwealth of Australia
|Canberra||7,692,024||24,419,900||1,482,282||55,215||1,296,075||50,817||0.939||Australian dollar ($)
National and de facto: English
|Monarch: Elizabeth II
Governor-General: Peter Cosgrove
Prime Minister: Scott Morrison
Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace
Negara Brunei Darussalam
|Bandar Seri Begawan||5,765||417,200||11,991||28,740||33,756||76,567||0.865||Brunei dollar ($)
|Malay||Monarch: Hassanal Bolkiah|
Kingdom of Cambodia
Preăh Réachéanachâk Kâmpŭchéa
|Phnom Penh||181,035||15,626,444||24,307||1,308||69,884||4,022||0.563||Cambodian riel (៛)
|Khmer||Monarch: Norodom Sihamoni
Prime Minister: Hun Sen
People’s Republic of China
Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó
|Beijing||9,596,961||1,382,580,000||13,118,689||9,489||25,102,916||18,158||0.738||Renminbi (Chinese yuan, ¥)
written in simplified characters
see also: Languages of China
|President: Xi Jinping
Premier: Li Keqiang
Republic of India
|New Delhi||3,287,263||1,314,470,000||2,654,165||1,850||10,339,552||7,153||0.624||Indian rupee (₹)
|Hindi||President: Ram Nath Kovind
Prime Minister: Narendra Modi
Republic of Indonesia
|Jakarta||1,910,931||263,510,000||1,092,138||3,895||3,481,107||12,432||0.689||Indonesian rupiah (Rp)
see also: Languages of Indonesia
|President: Joko Widodo|
|Tokyo||377,930||126,760,000||5,063,129||38,281||5,545,884||42,860||0.903||Japanese yen (¥)
Prime Minister: Shinzō Abe
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
|Vientiane||236,800||6,492,400||18,674||2,051||53,626||6,115||0.586||Lao kip (₭)
|Lao||President: Bounnhang Vorachith|
Federation of Malaysia
|330,803||32,019,500||340,923||9,623||988,993||28,636||0.789||Malaysian ringgit (RM)
see also: Languages of Malaysia
Prime Minister: Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw
|Naypyidaw||676,578||54,836,000||74,002||1,374||362,969||6,360||0.556||Burmese kyat (K)
see also: Languages of Myanmar
|President: Htin Kyaw
State Counsellor: Aung San Suu Kyi
|Wellington||270,467||4,786,710||215,172||41,107||195,103||38,706||0.915||New Zealand dollar ($)
|Monarch: Elizabeth II
Governor-General: Patsy Reddy
Prime Minister: Jacinda Ardern
Republic of the Philippines
Republika ng Pilipinas
|Manila||300,000||103,874,000||357,792||3,102||951,224||8,270||0.682||Philippine peso (₱)
|President: Rodrigo Duterte|
Republic of Singapore
|719||5,607,300||316,872||51,431||537,447||90,724||0.925||Singapore dollar ($)
see also: Languages of Singapore
|President: Halimah Yacob
Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong
Republic of Korea
|Seoul||100,210||51,446,201||1,597,392||29,114||2,127,164||39,446||0.901||South Korean won (₩)
|Korean||Prime Minister: Lee Nak-yeon
President: Moon Jae-in
Kingdom of Thailand
|Bangkok||513,120||68,298,000||466,623||6,265||1,296,095||17,749||0.740||Thai baht (฿)
Prime Minister: Prayut Chan-o-cha
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam
|Hanoi||331,212||92,700,000||234,688||2,305||697,752||6,925||0.683||Vietnamese đồng (₫)
|Vietnamese||Prime Minister: Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
President: Nguyễn Phú Trọng
Presence in the world
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. The combined GDP of potential RCEP members surpassed the combined GDP of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in 2007. Continued 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.
- 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 and timeline
- During the 19th ASEAN Summit held 14–19 November 2011, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was introduced.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in Tangerang, Indonesia.
- 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.
- 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 2018, a leaders’ summit in Singapore is scheduled, where a broad agreement is expected.
Controversies and criticism
RCEP has been criticized by free culture activists for containing “quite simply the worst provisions on copyright […] ever seen in a trade agreement.” Global health care activists have criticized the agreement for potentially forcing India to end its cheap supply of generic medications to poor countries.
- Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia (CEPEA)
- Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
- East Asian Community
- East Asia Summit
- South Asian Free Trade Area
- Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)
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