The RCEP will also accelerate the economic integration of Innordostasia. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said last year that negotiations on the trilateral free trade agreement between China and South Korea and Japan, which have been stalled for many years, will begin « as soon as they are able to conclude the RCEP negotiations. » As I said, in a high-level speech in early November, President Xi Jinping promised to « accelerate negotiations on an investment agreement between China and the EU and a free trade agreement between China and Japan and the United States. » The main effect of the RCEP is to have pooled the various free trade agreements concluded by ASEAN with the other five Asia-Pacific countries in a single framework. It covers trade in goods, but contributes little to the removal of non-tariff barriers. Most services are excluded, but also agriculture, which is a sensitive sector. This is a more « flat » agreement than the existing free trade agreements between the EU and the region. And that cannot be compared to our own internal market. But that was never the case. There has been a long history of opposition to the RCEP among Indian farmers, particularly dairy farmers, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and some in the service industry, who were concerned about losing other countries under the agreement, particularly with China in the case of trade in industrial products and Australia and New Zealand in the dairy trade. Human rights groups also called for stronger language to ensure worker protection from abuse in the RCEP chapter on temporary workers. The 2020 agreement is expected to boost the global economy by $186 billion.   The effects of RCEP are impressive, even if the agreement is not as strict as the CPTPP. It stimulates supply chains throughout the region, as well as political sensitivities. Its intellectual property rules have little effect on what many members have, and the agreement says nothing at all about labour, the environment or state-owned enterprises – all key chapters of the CPTPP.
However, ASEAN-focused trade agreements tend to improve over time. The RCEP, often imprecisely described as « china-led, » is a triumph of ASEAN`s diplomacy of middle power. The value of a major East Asian trade agreement has long been recognized, but neither China nor Japan, the region`s largest economies, have been politically acceptable as architects for the project. The impasse was resolved in 2012 by an ASEAN-brokered agreement, which included India, Australia and New Zealand as members and tasked ASEAN with negotiating the agreement. Without such an « ASEAN centrality, » the RCEP would never have been created. The agreement aims to reduce tariffs and bureaucracy. It contains uniform rules of origin throughout the bloc, which can facilitate international supply chains and trade within the region.   In addition, some tariffs are prohibited. It does not focus on trade unions, environmental protection or public subsidies.  The RCEP agreement is proof that ASEAN has succeeded in placing itself at the centre of its region in sentoso, although the major powers have tended to shed their weight. ASEAN has also developed an « Indo-Pacific space perspective » which, in a context of growing security and political tensions, underlines the need to keep the area open, stable, inclusive and subject to rules.
It is clear that the Indo-Pacific area will be the most dynamic region in the world and the centre of growth for decades to come. The region`s success in managing the COVID 19 pandemic, certainly in relation to Europe and the United States, has further reinforced this trend. We also believe that together, the RCEP and the CPTPP will offset the global losses resulting from the trade war between the United States and China, but not for China and the United States. The new agreements will make the economies of North and South-East Asia more efficient and combine their strengths