Saturday, November 24, 2012
$20 trillion Asia trade bloc planned
An alternative to US President Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP) is the newest concept for an economic union between ASEAN and six major trading partners, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen formally launched the negotiations on the RCEP during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on November 20.
The RCEP is supposed to be a trading bloc that will comprise more than three billion people with a combined GDP of $20 trillion, or almost one-third of the global economy. Officials hope to have the talks concluded by the end of 2015.
The idea for the new bloc has been born as critics have said the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not the ideal mechanism for a Pacific trade pact given China’s non-membership and some countries in Asia, such as Thailand, have raised concerns that US companies in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and information technology would be granted greater access to Asia before Asian companies in those sectors are able to compete with US rivals on equal footing.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership so far includes the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico and Canada.