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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.

Go deeper

Nov 17, 2020 - World

Biden's Day 1 challenges: China damage control

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The day he enters the White House, President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a host of China-related challenges that require immediate action, from restoring diplomatic backchannels with China to figuring out what to do about lingering tariffs.

The big picture: Biden must find a way to put the U.S.-China relationship on a more sustainable path while preserving U.S. national security interests and blocking China's efforts to weaken international norms.

The U.S.-China split in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China and the U.S. don't collaborate in space —a decades-old divide that is shaping the future of both nations' space programs.

Why it matters: U.S. semiconductor companies and those in other sectors are under pressure — from politicians and consumers — to become less reliant on China. The record of the nations' parallel ambitions in space shows what the U.S. gains and loses when it cuts China off.

6 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

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