The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is set to officially go into effect on January 1 as the world’s largest free trade agreement, with its 15 members including South Korea, China, Japan and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Last Tuesday, the governments of Australia and New Zealand announced their ratification of RCEP. According to the terms of the agreement, RCEP goes into effect within 60 days of at least six ASEAN members and at least three ASEAN non-members submitting their ratification documents to the ASEAN secretary-general, with the provisions applying first to countries that have submitted ratifications.
The conditions for the partnership to take effect were met when Australia and New Zealand completed their procedures after ratification was previously completed by China, Japan, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
India also held negotiations on RCEP membership, but opted not to join due to concerns about a sharp rise in imports of Chinese-made industrial products as markets are opened, among other concerns.