Given the many security crises in our neighbourhood, I must inevitably focus on the events that have occurred near our borders. However, I am convinced that the Asia-Pacific region is our economic neighbourhood. That is why we have an interest in the evolution of the region. The political impact of the entry into force of the RCEP agreement is also worth mentioning. First, the signing of the agreement comes at a crucial time for the global economy, which contracted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for global economic governance, which is showing signs of fatigue (. B, for example, the crisis of the WTO appeals body). Despite the aforementioned fatigue, the signing of the RCEP agreement will support the multilateral trading system. Second, the ASEAN agreement offers the opportunity to strengthen its influence on the Asian continent. Third, China will gain mainly in the economic influence and influence of the agreement. Once the agreement is in force, China will have liberalized access to developing markets, thereby reducing its dependence on domestic consumption. In addition, China sees the adoption of the agreement as an opportunity to set trade rules on the continent without the influence of the United States. Indeed, this influence diminished considerably after the United States withdrew from the negotiations that led to the adoption of the comprehensive and progressive trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in 2018.
The partnership is a free trade agreement between 11 Pacific countries: Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan. Now, nearly four years later and at the end of President Trump`s term, the United States finds itself outside when another mega-trade deal is reached. Many have spoken out about the wider impact of these decisions. In fact, a document from the Peterson Institute for International Economics states: “The resignations [of India and the United States] reflect similar motivations in both countries, including nationalist politics, on the one hand, and the fear of losing ground to China in economic and strategic competition. Many Member States have already concluded free trade agreements, but there are restrictions. Our economic relations with Southeast Asia are strong. For many years, the EU has been the main source of foreign direct investment in ASEAN and one of its main trading partners. We have already concluded important free trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam, as well as with Japan and Korea, and we are negotiating with several other countries, including Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. These agreements have helped to maintain trade despite the pandemic, for example by significantly increasing imports of organic chemicals and essential medicines from Singapore. The RCEP agreement updates existing ASEAN Plus One free trade agreements, i.e. agreements between China and China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India. The agreement will complement and build on the WTO agreement.
Many years ago, in February 2015, when the Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed, President Obama said that agreements like this allow us to “write the rules of the road in the 21st century.” But history took another turn when President Trump withdrew from the TPP in his first days in office (which eventually advanced without the United States and became the CPTPP). While within the EU we are still studying its 20 chapters, 510 pages and annexes, their obvious achievements are clearer than in the depth of their reports: 30% of the world`s population and GDP, 28% of world trade and five members of the G20. A great advantage will be the harmonization of the rules of origin, which will also help European companies in the region, which will make it easier for companies to ship products to the region without establishing different criteria of origin for each stage of the manufacturing process or in each country that has been crossed.