The deal excludes the US, which withdrew from a rival Asia-Pacific trade pact in 2017. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) shortly after taking office. Negotiations over the new RCEP deal began in 2012 and it was finally signed on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).The RCEP isn't as comprehensive and doesn't cut tariffs as deeply as the TPP's successor. But many analysts think RCEP's sheer size makes it more significant.
"Its membership includes a larger group of nations, notably reflecting the membership of China, which considerably boosts the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of RCEP members," according to Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist for analyst firm IHS Markit.