With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Beijing sets itself as a reference for the economies of the region
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After nearly eight years of negotiations, China has completed a monster trade deal, which links it to 14 economies in Asia-Pacific. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (Rcep) came on Sunday 15 November, at the end of the ASEAN summit, which Vietnam virtually hosted.
The RCP joins the other enormous hegemonic effort produced by China in recent years: the mega infrastructural investments of the New Silk Road, which however begins to show more and more evident signs of fatigue and disenchantment on the part of the partner countries. Beyond the contents on duties and trade, the RCEP, like the Silk Road, has political value: in the increasingly fierce competition with the United States, Beijing has patiently and determinedly pursued its diplomacy and has built, at least on paper, a block of interest and influence that embraces traditional Washington allies.
In addition to the ten ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and New Zealand, the agreement includes Australia and above all Japan and South Korea. for the Trump Administration.
In Beijing’s intentions, India should also have participated, which did not surprise too much last year, increasingly irritated by the economic expansionism of its bulky neighbor. Tensions between the two countries have spilled over the disputed border in the Himalayas, where skirmishes between opposing armies have risen in recent months.
The numbers of Rcep
Even without India, the numbers of the CEP are impressive. The region concerned produces almost a third of the world’s GDP and is home to 2.7 billion people. The agreement aims to progressively reduce duties and facilitate investments and exchanges between member countries (by creating common rules of origin). The result will be the strengthening of regional supply chains, under Chinese direction. An aspect on which Beijing, the only major economy to save itself from recession in the year of Covid, is increasingly aiming to reduce dependence on the United States.
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