Fifteen countries on Sunday signed a sprawling Asian trade deal seen as a huge coup for China in extending its influence. The china-backed deal excludes the United States, which had left a rival Asia-Pacific grouping under President Donald Trump.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – which includes 10 Southeast Asian economies along with China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia – is the world’s largest trade pact in terms of GDP.

RCEP is a trade agreement between 15 economies in the Asia Pacific region that are home to almost a third of the world’s population

India withdrew from the negotiations last year and did not sign the agreement today. A fast-track process for India’s accession has been established, should it wish to re-join RCEP in the future.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region between the ten member states of ASEAN, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and five of their FTA partners—Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The 15 negotiating countries account for 30% of the world’s population and just under 30% of the global GDP.[1] The agreement was signed on 15 November 2020.

In 2011, the trade pact was conceived at the ASEAN Summit in Bali. The RCEP negotiations were formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.[4] India, an FTA partner of ASEAN, initially participated in the RCEP negotiations but opted out in 2019 primarily due to concerns of dumping of manufactured goods from China and agricultural and dairy products from Australia and New Zealand