Hanoi : China and 14 other countries have agreed to set up the world’s largest trading bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the pandemic. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, is to be signed virtually on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ”After eight years of negotiating with blood, sweat and tears, we have finally come to the moment where we will seal the RCEP Agreement,” Malaysia’s trade minister, Mohamed Azmin Ali, said in a statement. The deal sends a signal that RCEP countries have chosen ”to open our markets instead of resorting to protectionist measures during this difficult time,” he said. The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time, and is less comprehensive than an 11-nation trans-Pacific trade deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.It includes the 10 nations belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States. Officials said the accord leaves… Read full this story
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