Hanoi: As many as 15 countries on Sunday signed an Asian trade deal seen as a huge coup for China in extending its influence.
According to analysts, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is the world’s largest trade pact with its members — which include 10 Southeast Asian economies along with China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia —accounting for around 30 of global GDP.
First proposed in 2012, the deal was finally sealed at the end of a Southeast Asian summit as leaders pushed to get their pandemic-hit economies back on track, NDTV reported.
“The RCEP solidifies China’s broader regional geopolitical ambitions around the Belt and Road initiative,” said a trade expert, referring to Beijing’s signature investment project that envisions Chinese infrastructure and influence spanning the globe.
India had pulled out of the agreement last year over concerns about cheap Chinese goods entering the country. India can, however, join at a later date if it chooses.