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15 Asia-Pacific Countries Form World's Biggest Free Trade Bloc

Heads of 15 nations formed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership on Sunday.   -  
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AFP

free trade

It will be the world’s largest free trade bloc.

On Sunday Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies formed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a China-backed deal that excludes the United States, which had left a rival Asia-Pacific grouping under President Donald Trump.

One of the biggest free trade deals in history, the RCEP will cover 2.2 billion people and 30% of the world’s economic output.

"I believe that the RCEP agreement will soon be approved by countries and be realised in the time to come, contributing to the recovery process of economies following the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing common prosperity to people and businesses of all member countries", Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said.

The United States is absent from both the RCEP and the successor to the Obama-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), leaving the world’s biggest economy out of two trade groups that span the fastest-growing region on earth.

By contrast, RCEP could help Beijing cut its dependence on overseas markets and technology, a shift accelerated by a deepening rift with Washington