RCEP: Between geopolitics and geo-economics

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, negotiations for which began in 2013, will come into force this Saturday, January 1, 2022.

The RCEP ratification process mandated that at least six countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and three ASEAN dialogue partners needed to ratify it. Despite being signed in November 2020, only Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Brunei, China and Japan had ratified the RCEP by November 2021. Subsequently, Australia and New Zealand ratified it on November 2 and 3 respectively, paving the way for the deal to enter force from January onward.

The deal comes into force in a specific historical context. While there is consolidation of Chinese economic engagement across the East Asian region, there are also growing gray-zone violations by Beijing around the Senkaku Islands and Taiwan and in the South China Sea. RCEP therefore showcases the divergences among regional economic frameworks and geopolitical trends.

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