Editorial : Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

【明報專訊】THE Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which comprises 15 countries including the ten ASEAN nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, convened its 10th ministerial meeting through a video conference last Tuesday. The joint statement published after the meeting said that concrete progress had been made in every negotiation, and there was unanimous consensus that an agreement should be signed by the end of this year. As for India, which withdrew from the negotiations last year, the joint statement said that the door remained open for the country, implying that it would not wait for India. The RCEP will become the biggest free trade zone in the world. It will be a shot in the arm for the world economy and world supply chain, which have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the RCEP is made up of numerous economies and has a rich diversity of systems and institutions, it remains to be seen whether the geopolitical factor can be overcome after the agreement is signed so as to achieve the expected synergy.