Nov 15, 2020 - World

15 Asia-Pacific countries form world's largest trading bloc

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) clapping next to other country signatories during the signing ceremony for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) is pictured on a TV monitor next to leaders of other country signatories during the signing ceremony for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership at a virtual summit, hosted from Hanoi. Photo: Nhac Nguyen /AFP via Getty Images

China and 14 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on Sunday formed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Why it matters: The RCEP is the world's biggest free trading bloc, accounting for almost a third of all economic activity.

  • The nations aim for the pact to "mitigate the crippling cost of the coronavirus and ease financial pain," per a statement from Vietnam's government, from where the leaders' online summit was hosted.

Of note: The agreement will see "already low" trade tariffs between member nations progressively reduce further, though it's "less comprehensive" than the Trans-Pacific Partnership that President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2017, AP notes.

The big picture: The signatories comprise the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

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