Finally, RCEP and CPTPP are powerful counter-examples of the overall decline in rules-based trade. If RCEP encourages mutually beneficial growth, its members, including China, will gain influence around the world. ASEAN leaders said they still intend to expand trade with India and that the door remains open for New Delhi to join the Bloc. ASEAN has a series of free trade agreements with other Asian countries, which are radically changing the global landscape of government procurement and manufacturing. It has, for example, a contract with China that effectively eliminated tariffs reduced to nearly 8,000 product categories or 90% of goods imported at zero. These favourable conditions have entered into force in China and in ASEAN home members such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Other ASEAN treaties are being negotiated, including with Japan, which already has a series of far-reaching economic partnerships, while South Korea already has a free trade agreement. Both are similar to the above – the more than 90% reduction in all goods traded between ASEAN and these countries. At the online ceremony, the leaders of the RCEP countries took turns behind their trade ministers, who successively signed copies of the agreement, which they then triumphantly showed to the cameras. Australia hopes the trade deal will improve its relations with China, its largest trading partner.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang celebrated the signing of the agreement in a speech at the summit and said, “The signing of RCEP is not only an important milestone in regional cooperation in East Asia, but also a victory for multilateralism and free trade.” Ten ASEAN countries and five other Asia-Pacific countries have signed the world`s largest trade agreement in terms of GDP. The pact is expected to boost economic growth in a region hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. “It is essential that partners like China, when they make new deals like this, not only respect the details of such deals, but also act faithfully in their minds,” Birmingham told The Age newspaper. The new free trade bloc will be more important than the agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada and the European Union. Efforts to close the development gap and expand trade among ASEAN members are key elements of the political debate. According to a 2008 research letter published by the World Bank as part of its trade costs and facilitation, ASEAN members have the potential to reap significant benefits from investments in further trade facilitation reform as a result of the comprehensive tariff reform already implemented by the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. India and the US were supposed to become members of RCEP or CPTPP respectively, but withdrew under the Modi and Trump governments.