The Story of RCEP: History, Negotiations, Structure, and Future Directions
This paper is about the story of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), including the history, dynamics of negotiations, and structure of this multilateral framework. Issues related to ASEAN centrality, sensitivities of negotiations, and other challenges are also highlighted and analysed. Nearly a decade in the making, RCEP represents a significant achievement for the region. As an ASEAN-led process, RCEP supports not only the region’s market integration but as well as ASEAN’s economic relations with the rest of the world, particularly with the 5 RCEP FTA Partners. Beyond the impact of RCEP in supporting the multilateral trading system, it is also intended to address the current challenges in the region, including the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Thus, the narrative of RCEP provides a comprehensive overview of, and considers the potential implications for, trade in the region; for economic integration, and for the future of trade policy.