The 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting will be held from today until 10 September in the Philippines. The meeting aims to hash out the concluding text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
An alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the RCEP is heavily promoted by China after having previously been cut out of the TPP. The deal includes ASEAN’s ten member states, as well as the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements. The bloc would include almost half of the world’s population and constitute about 40% of the world’s GDP.
The RCEP would lower tariffs, promote movement and lower environmental and labour standards in participating countries to stimulate free trade. Coupled with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, the deal could pose a massive expansion of Chinese economic influence by enabling Beijing to tap nascent export markets throughout the developing world.
Regardless, various facets of the RCEP, like foreign access to domestic government procurement bids, are still being contended. While such apprehensions are unlikely to be entirely assuaged this week, the final agreement could be signed by the end of this year.
Max is Foreign Brief's Chief Executive Officer. A Latin America specialist, Max is an expert in regional political and economic trends, focusing particularly on the Southern Cone.