Author(s): Emmet John Fritch
ASEAN member countries signed a new trade agreement, The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), during November 2020. The RCEP is China's reaction to trade difficulties with the US “post phase one” of the US-China Trade Agreement in January 2020. The Chinese and WTO viewpoints on China’s new policy are summarized. Before the RCEP agreement, the US and China entered into phase one of a trade agreement, January 2020. China agreed to an increase of $200 billion of imported goods from the US between 2020 and 2021. The World Trade Organization reported the growth is approximately 50% higher than China imports from the US during 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to impact the committed Chinese import value. A reaction to incremental import tariffs between the countries in the phase one agreement led to the RCEP agreement (Bekkers & Schroeter 2020). China asserted that part of its central plan is to influence economic conditions in local regions. The ASEAN group nations joined with China to create a trading block led by China. The Chinese finalized a regional trade agreement, in part, as a reaction to the consequences of the COVID-19 issues, as well as in response to issues meeting Phase one conditions reached in the January 2020 US-China agreement. Two Asian region countries not signing the RCEP agreement are India and Japan. The US is not a participant in the RCEP agreement. Below is a summary of the Chinese and The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) description of the RCEP.