The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its five FTA partners – China, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
RCEP negotiations began in November 2012 at the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.
During the 19th ASEAN summit held in November 2011, RCEP was introduced.
The official announcement for the launch of RCEP negotiations was made at the 21st ASEAN summit held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Leaders of the summit endorsed the framework for RCEP.
The twenty-sixth round of negotiations was held in Melbourne on 3rd July 2019. The nations have not arrived at the final agreement yet.
Importance of RCEP for India:
RCEP potentially includes more than 3 billion people or 45% of the world's population, and a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion, accounting for about 40 percent of world trade. The combined GDP of potential RCEP members surpassed the combined GDP of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in 2007. Continued economic growth, particularly in China, India, and Indonesia could see total GDP in RCEP grow to over $100 trillion by 2050, roughly double the project size of TPP economies.
It allows Indian industry access to a number of countries in the region and is a pathway to India’s economic development.
RCEP will give Indian exporters a window to be part of global value chains.
RCEP has been criticized by free culture activists for containing “quite simply the worst provisions on copyright ever seen in a trade agreement. Global health care activists have criticized the agreement for potentially forcing India to end its cheap supply of generic medications to poor countries.